The early part of January wasn’t all that eventful in the whole scope of things. I lined up some client work, did more paperwork (UGH!!), tried to build more strength, and started thinking about my next major steps in life. I knew that soon I’d have to get on with life for my own sanity. I may not be able to ride a motorcycle full time but I can at least get back into the community and at least start planning.
For now, I was looking forward to going back to POA for a new foot that has flex and also looking forward to working the PR tent for 50legs.org at the Quaker Steak and Lube in Clearwater, FL hosted by Full Throttle of Central Florida.
And so it was that a new year began, with a new leg, and new learnings…
01-18-14 Saturday – I had decided that I wanted a little taste of freedom, the road, and the old life; even if only sort of. I took off from Dad’s with the back of my little Outback laid out with my electric scooter dismantled to one side and a make-shift sleeping area. I was going to camp. I had decided not to invest in a new tent, as mine was lost in the crash. It didn’t seem a prudent investment at this time as I’d have to soon pickup a used camper trailer; so for now, the rear of the Outback will due. I made my way into Savannah, GA and it was early evening. The crowds on the street were growing but extremely tame. I continued to follow my map as I was headed to the coastline to see if I could find camping.
Camping I did not find, but did happen to locate a local hot spot for very reasonable seafood. I pulled into The Crab Shack and ordered up a sampler platter. My gratitude to a fine follower that gave me a gift card.
I had read on the menu that that have a live webcam by the alligator pond so I posted a contest on Facebook that the first person to snap a screen shot of me and post it on Facebook would win a Live to Ride CD from my buddy Mike Anthony Jones.
As it turned out, the webcam was offline and several folks had tried and even went so far as to prove it with screen shots. So, I compromised and issued 7 CDs to those that tried until I had to leave.
While checking in on Facebook at this location, a buddy of mine from 976 miles away in Lemont, IL said he was in Savannah with his sister. It was decided that when my dinner was over I was to head to Savannah and meet up with Tim and Liz. They were enjoying the night-life as Liz’s daughter was with friends at a hockey game.
I quick realized when I returned to that part of town that the night-life was in full force. It was illuminated with lights that shone upon grand old architecture of the southland. Vendors were about the street, horse drawn carriages made me smile inside, and yet I have to say, it was not the most accessible for somebody that is still building strength and still has a very rigid and heavy leg. I was not about to let any of that stop me from getting to my friend. I put the leg to the test and with delightful results. It was great to share a beer with Tim and meet his sister Liz. She was a very fun lady and so easy to talk with. I wished I could have stayed but I still had to get to my camping area.
So I had to trade looking for hiding spots for me and my motorcycle to finding a reasonably secure place. As such I chose a KOA on the south outskirts of Savannah. I had the prettiest view and the tent site was well set back. It was 35 degrees over night but I was plenty warm with my Koppen 20 degree sleeping bag. I even did a video the next morning.
01-19-14 Sunday – I woke early, got cleaned up, dressed, ate my cereal which I carry in my go-to along with my milk in my cooler (and other economical goodies to feed the machine along the way). Anyway, I set off to be a tourist for Sunday. I had no particular schedule other than to be in Webster, FL no later than Tuesday morning for a 80th birthday party. Oh yes, a party with the Sunshine Village kids…
The sunrise at the camp ground was beautiful and this is just of the things I love about living on the road. Simplicity – yeah, would be another great thing.
At the suggestion of my friend Ed from IL, now living in FL; I was going to shoot for a little juke joint for Brunswick Stew for lunch and a little site sighting on St. Simon Island, GA.
After some touring, picture taking and Brunswick Stew, I made my way to Jekyll Island, GA. There was a lot of tour stuff to do here and I was looking forward to it. I particularly was fascinated with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and that’s the first stop on my tour. I walked in and received my turtle station punch card. I proceeded to visit each station and read about these archaic creatures that have had to overcome modern man’s pillage of the sea. Centers like Georgia Sea Turtle Center help rescue turtles that otherwise would have no chance of survival or replicating the species. As I toured the stations I heard that a moderated tour in the turtle hospital was beginning soon. Along with all the other guests present at the time we followed along and got a very enlightening tour of the hospital. We learned that these rescued turtles are saved and put back together using the same technologies that were used for me. As you can imagine I sort of had a little kindred thing going on.
At the end of the tour most folks dispersed right away and didn’t stick around long. I approached the moderator of our tour and shared my fascination with the likenesses I heard about. We discussed how to adopt a turtle and we proceeded inside so she could give me a brochure. And I proceeded to get a few more of my stamps. When Kira returned, she gave me the run down on adopting a turtle and I explained that though my heart was totally in it that I had to be cautious with funds. She understood but I proposed that I would see if my followers would be interested in the plight of the turtles and help us adopt. So it was determined. During our conversation she asked me if I was from Minnesota and I said no of course. The conversation quickly proved that I was wearing my Shafer Franconia Fire and Rescue Support Shirt and Ms. Kira, hero of turtles, is from there. Too bizarre!! We exchanged information and took a photo and then I was off to be a tourist a bit more.
Now I knew the grounds there were very spread out and I was not yet prepared for that kind of unknown walking plus I may pick up something and need to carry things, which was indeed the case. The cobble stone had already presented a problem earlier. So I did break down and get out the scooter when I toured the shops. I was glad in fact because there was a lot of rocky ground to cover if you really wanted to go all over. I found several beautiful old oaks, shops where I got very inexpensive souvenirs for my dearest folks. And of course, took pictures!
I went to their on-island camping but they were very full and the tent sites were not very private. This would be a wonderful RV community camping type of place. So I grabbed a bite and checked my handy KOA app on my iPhone. Off I went. I didn’t take a picture of this one but it was right of the interstate for Kingsland, GA. My father was once on the Navy Base here and I checked out there camping but there were full and rather exposed. Great for an RV, big lots and well lit.
So the KOA again provided to have some tent spots set back along a tree line that was perfect for me. This one even had a picnic table and fire ring. Often you can’t have open flame at these types of sites so that’s a perk, though I was not roughing it quite that much this round.
01-20-14 Monday – In the morning I proceeded to Webster, FL to meet up with my Rider’s Claw family. Frenchy, the patriarch was having a surprise 80th birthday party and I was honored to have been invited. Ms. Janice called a couple of time to ensure that I was coming and I believe she even had Ms. Doris on the call tree – wink wink. On Monday, we played catch up, had a bite to eat and went where????? Of course, to play cards. Only this time, I didn’t have a zip bag full of change and had to make change. I guess overall I did ok. I didn’t very much. Maybe like, $0.75. They are sharks, you have to watch them.
01-21-14 Tuesday – The girls all had a shopping date to get decorations, lunch, and to then decorate the hall for the birthday party. We had a grand day and even did a custody exchange of Ms. Stacy in the parking lot of Dollar General.
There was a slightly cake delivery delay but all in all the party was a huge success and everybody had a great time. I made sure to send real-time photos to Barb Conro-Reinert as this was her Daddy’s birthday and she could not join us. I was honored that I could share that moment with the Conro / Reinert family. Much love for my Rider’s Claw family.
01-22-14 Wednesday – I had to be off to my appointment at POA for my new foot. I was excited that the unit would be lighter and have flex in it for a better step. Now I realize that 50legs.org is donating my services and leg(s) to me at this point, there is clearly a cap to that help and have to be prepared for that.
When I arrived and got the chance to see Roger he was able to see how much my residual limb had shrunk and how many layers I had on to take up the slack in the socket, making it not so easy or comfortable to walk or wear the leg. As it turned out, I would be staying longing than anticipated because a new leg was now required. So I was cast again and sent along so they could work on the socket. In the meantime, I spent time with the trainers and therapist on-site to help with techniques to stimulate muscle growth and core strengthening. I did this for the next couple days.
01-24-14 Friday – I had the new leg and new foot. Although it was in rough form it was indeed lighter and once laminated would even lighter still – woohoo! And the spring in the step was really great. I still have a great deal of strength to gain but I am well on my way. Roger did some adjustments and I did a like more training. After which I battled the rush hour traffic and made my way to Quaker Steak and Lube in Clearwater, FL where Full Throttle Central Florida was putting on their Bike Weekend. I was working in support at the 50legs.org tent. We actually had a premium spot to see and hear all the bands. One of the ladies helping in the tent that evening quickly warmed up to me and suggested that I go get my picture take with Paul Sr., of Orange County Choppers. I hadn’t even known he was appearing but I agreed and we were off. Paul Sr. took a moment to sign my leg and pose for pictures.
That had been a long day and the bike event was setup and ready for Saturday’s traffic and bands. We shut down the tent and headed for a much needed rest as both Steve and I had been traveling for the past several days and were exhausted.
01-25-14 Saturday – The new leg felt far better than the first one and the day went very well. We had a great time meet other amputees that have been helped by 50legs.org, meeting locals, seeing a wonderful woman Marilyn whom I met when I started The BROAD journey in Daytona last year, and even a lady in the bathroom line that asked if I was The BROAD and that she follows my story on Facebook. Saturday had a great line-up of bands, raffles, visitors like Rod, Steve, Kim, and of course Baby Samantha was a hoot to watch run around. She made it look so easy. A big thank you to you all.
As it turned out during this time, I realized that in the last couple of days, the followers on Facebook that spoke up raised enough money that we were able to adopt 2 sea turtles from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. So the adoption process with Kira began for Flounder and Buzz.
01-26-14 Sunday – As it turned out, I pushed a little too long and ate a bunch of junk which made me swell up and ended up in agony. I didn’t sleep, ended up with a migraine, was sick, and finally rested from about 11 am to 4 pm. Needless to say I missed the show Sunday. I woke weak but determined to get some health food in me. I went to the grocery, got a few things and made a reasonable meal. My body thanked me with a good night of rest.
01-27-14 Monday – I returned to POA for my final adjustments and I surprised to learn that if I was willing to wait around, I could have it laminated and be done for now. So it was. The new laminated leg is a dream. I cannot believe the difference this leg has made. I didn’t realize it could be this much better and I thought I had it pretty good.
I spent the evening tidying my car, doing laundry, eating healthy again, and packing. I was intending to pull out the next morning to do a tourist ride to visit my Mom, Aunt, and friends in Charleston, SC.
01-28-14 Tuesday – I pulled out and headed to visit my friend Kara outside of Leesburg. We just visited for about two hours but she sent me off with juice oranges, Blue Bell oranges, and lemons from the trees in her yard. Pure, fresh, and all organic. Oh my gosh, I made the mistake of trying to eat this in my lap with a napkin; no… I was wearing the juice. Delicious.
I knew that unseasonable snow and ice was intended for the Charleston and surrounding areas so I wanted to try and make it to Mom’s before night fall. I carried on my trip but I tired early on and really needed to find WiFi to do some client work. I like to use an app called Hotel.com – they have 24 hour specials in your ‘current area’. If you give yourself a radius you can drive by them before booking to see if you would stay there. If so, book the deal on the app and walk right in; most of the non-sense of check-in is done. Viola, save time and major bucks if you use the 24 hour deals. And for the record since I already sound like an ad, they also have a rewards program; buy 10 nights, get one free. So anyway, I stopped but the place I chose had crappy WiFi when I was there and it frustrated me that I didn’t get work done as intended. So as with anything, you have to weigh the pros and possible cons.
01-29-14 Wednesday – Over night the area did get snow and ice and the concerns were mostly for the bridges. I waited until nearly 11 am to set off hoping that some warming with the sun I could see peeking the clouds would help melt away some of the winter weather from this southern shell shocked region.
I decided to take advantage of the fact I needed to drive slow and be aware. As it turned out there was nearly nobody on the road and being that I spent 21 years in Chicago I found it somewhat comical, though I had to be respectful that this region simply was not used to these effects. They use sand here; they don’t have salt domes. I noticed some areas where the sand was dumped and not spread so you could tell that they road crew wasn’t even used to this the task of spreading. And if you figure it, when folks would usually be preparing to go to work the ice was still out there, even if slight it is still dangerous and thus, businesses shut down as well as schools.
Much like when this happened once in my childhood in this area, it was melting away by the afternoon. Some trees retained icicles because the air was so humid and yet just above freezing that they could hardly melt for the air was saturated. I took advantage of being tourist of this day and enjoyed several deserted buildings and even enjoyed a fresh frozen dessert of figs from mother nature. I found a WONDERFUL road side market called Carolina Cider Company where all the goods are made from South Carolina produce. I feel in love with the 100% cherry and blueberry ciders.
I am using the cherry for inflation and blueberry for general healing antioxidants. I also got organic honey at a very reasonable price. While in the market, I saw a brochure for the Charleston Tea Garden and since I love tea so much, I thought this might be something to do during my visit. As well as see the Angel Oak which I had already intended.
I went straight to my Mom’s went I got town. I was tickled to see her, Steve, and of course Hershey Boy (my B.B. Girl’s twin brother). I mixed up some juice from what I purchased at the Carolina Cider Company and gave her some of the fresh fruit from Kara as well. I planted a seed for plans tomorrow as the family was supposed to have dinner. I made the short so I could be setup in my room. Another 24 deal on hotels.com – I have to say that this sure was a true luxury and the follower that donated it has indeed been thanked.
I got settled in and setup on the WiFi… so I thought! ARGH! Again, issues. I called the front desk and she said she would reset it. All the same something was still causing an issue and it wasn’t my end. Go figure.
01-30-14 Thursday – I sort of pushed my Mom into getting her rear in gear so we could get out. We got zippers to run the length of my inseam to make getting jeans on and off easier. We found a pair of jeans to try it on at the local Goodwill. We went to get my Mom a haircut and to do her banking. We visited with my Aunt Beverly and arrived just in time to see Uncle Jeff. As it turned out it would only be us 3 ladies for dinner. We had a lovely dinner and did some catching up all around. After dinner I took my Mom home and we did some measurement on the pants, made some herbal tea, and I learned how to use the cigarette rolling machine. I took my leave and back to the hotel I went, to find yet again the issue was not resolved even after another call. Right about now I was really missing my WiFi card.
I confirmed with my new FB friend George that we having lunch with his wife the next day. The date was on and I would meet him in that area.
01-31-14 Friday – I got up early and did a little local touring and reminiscing from my childhood since the meeting place was very close to my destination for lunch. I toured around the traffic circle I remember and when I posted on FB about the duck pond being pond I was suddenly reminded that the memory fades… I was on the wrong street.
I made my way towards to the Charleston Naval Weapon Station, the place I spent kindergarten through most of senior year. My Dad always refused to relocate when it was time to re-enlist; how he got away this just shows he was a great asset to military and they made him happy to keep him. I had to meet George here to further on to meet his wife Paula, Paula’s son also joined us. We had a pleasurable lunch about she and I growing up exactly where we sat only she is a few years ahead of me so we didn’t know each other then. After lunch we agreed to meet up later at George and Paula’s home. From there, I was literally on the base where I grew up so I just took off and explored.
I revisited the house in which I grew up, took me a few passes and had to use my old trees as icons because this section of housing was rebuild after Hurricane Hugo.
I went around both my elementary schools, my middle school and my high school. The primary schools both look exactly the same only faded. I was really even surprised to see the same old school chairs sitting outside. These two schools were brand new when I arrived, hence why I had two elementary schools. My high school however has had a complete facelift but within the same structures for the most part.
After my hours of touring I made my way to George and Paula’s which was a good 35 minute ride from where I was. Now I have to tell you, I came to know George via Facebook and comments we were both making on a group called Amputee Coalition of America. The only reason I went to his personal page at all was because he had a cute sign as his profile picture – it mimics the bathroom signs only it’s boy and girl together and the boy is missing part of his leg. I thought is was cute so I went to his page to steal the picture. Once I got to his page I see his cover photo is a guy on a motorcycle missing his left leg. Considering where I just found this guy, I can only assume with most certainty that this is George. And then wouldn’t you know it, I saw that his lives very close to my Mom. (Back then, I knew I’d be in the area soon.) I then sent him a message of introduction and telling him I’d be around there soon.
I arrived before George and so I toured down the country road on which their home sits. It’s a beautiful road draped with oaks and hanging Spanish moss. There are some old country shacks still be loved to the end and some vast homes that ooze southern money. All are spread down this road that seems to never end; I never found out, I turned back around. The best thing is that even the tiniest house had a great deal of land.
When I returned George was home and we sat outside a while playing the 50 questions game and getting to understand each others stories. After a while we went inside to check on Mom and the dogs. All was well and after a bit of chatting we decided to see if I could hold up George’s Honda VTX. He had previously offered to let me ride it but honestly, I was nervous. And increase that after he brought the monster out. I was used to my little girl for so long. Well, holding it up seemed mostly ok, it was weird because I couldn’t feel the gravel beneath my left foot so I was nervous about slipping. I felt as if I had a good stance and was using my power, but my nerves are pretty jazzed up so it was definitely different.
I asked George to hold the bike up so I could put both feet up. George’s bike has running boards, a normal toe shift, and no crash bar. So while I was getting a feel for the weight and having my legs up, George was explaining to me how he swifts by using the heel of his sneaker and shifting up. Ok, I’ve had to do something similar when I lost the peg on my shifter once. That shouldn’t be so hard. I knew I didn’t like his clutch lever; it’s totally rigged for a dude with a wide hand spread. I could hardly get my fingertips to the max extension and it was very tight. WOWSA – I need to really work out harder.
All in all the experience was phenomenal and knew in that instant that I would ride very very soon.
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