Riding the Longleaf Trace

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Our first stop this morning was at Donut KingThere is a doughnut shop across the street from Oak Grove UMC where we are parked. You all probably find it hard to believe, but we arrived here last Monday and made our first purchase today. Oh my goodness they have wonderful doughnuts and cinnamon rolls. It won’t be our last visit.

We really debated riding our bikes today or staying at home resting. But we had planned to ride the Longleaf Trace rails-to-trails multi-use trail earlier in the week. The trail has a great reputation and since it was the last day we would have, we got up early today and hit the trail. The weather was perfect for a ride and this is probably the best bike trail we have ridden. Nice wide, paved trail. We understand why it is so popular. It’s a 41 mile trail and we road 22 miles round trip today. It was a really nice, fun ride.

After our ride we stopped and picked up some groceries before returning FRED. Later this afternoon, team members George and Lynn arrived. We have never worked with then so we will enjoy making new friends. Our final team members will arrive tomorrow. Otherwise it was a quiet afternoon. Just before dark we walked four laps of the parking lot to stretch out our legs.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to worship here at Oak Grove. Don’t forget to be in prayer for tomorrow’s services.

Update on Mama Ruby:  She is back at assisted living.  She is still weak but was discharged today without oxygen.  Still concerned about her, but glad she is out of hospital.

Back Together in Hattiesburg (and Another Flashback)

Friday, September 29, 2017

We are both in Hattiesburg!! It’s so nice for us to both be back at home. Thank you God for safe travel today.

Update on Mama Ruby: The cardiologist visit today was encouraging. He was pleased with the lab values and amount of fluid that we got off yesterday. Mom responded so much better to the lasix yesterday. He said he wanted to do one more day of IV lasix then we would see about changing to pills and talk about getting her home. That was very good news, although Mom was a little anxious because she wasn’t sure she had improved enough to go back to assisted living. Her oxygen saturation is still lower than we would like but we are hoping will slowly improve now that she has less fluid in the lungs. So today was about getting everything in place to assure a smooth transition back to assisted living. Anne and her brother Jim visited the assisted living facility to arrange for a nurse to visit Mom at the hospital today to do their paperwork to allow her to return. There is some state required stuff that has to be done if she is out more than 48 hours. We also made sure we had everything in place for oxygen to be delivered if it is determined tomorrow that she will need it. Mom had therapy today and walked further than yesterday. She also, late this afternoon, walked the hall two more times (using her walker) with Jim and walked a little further than with the therapist. We are so glad. We were concerned about her loosing some of the strength she has worked so hard to gain. She is such a hard worker at therapy. So Jim decided that Mom was doing enough better that he felt he could stay an additional night and move Mom back to assisted living tomorrow by himself. He suggested that Anne return to Hattiesburg and he would stay in close phone contact about everything. Thank you so much Jim. You are a gem! Anne rejoined Max and FRED about 6:10 tonight. Praying that labs are again better in the morning and the cardiologist still feels she can be discharged. Once again, thanks to all who have been sending notes and praying. It means more than you will ever know.

Our evening by the bonfire
The Fall 2016 NOMADS Team One Evening by the Bonfire

Another flashback: Since not much was going on in Hattiesburg today (except Anne making it back), we looked back to where we were this time last year. We were at Camp Sumatanga on a NOMADS 3 Week Project. For some reason we didn’t take as many pictures there as we usually do so some of these pictures were taken by friends. The project went from September 25th to October 14th. The main task was to remodel the rooms in Retreat Center 3 (a huge task) but, as always, there were many other tasks to keep us busy. We had a great team led by Bill and Jane and enjoyed meeting up again with old friends and making many new friends.



Still in Two States

Thursday, September28, 2017

Anne: I am still in Tuscaloosa and right now don’t know when I will be returning to Hattiesburg. Mom is a little better. Her oxygen saturation has remained at 98% all day today, up from, 96% all day yesterday. She is still on oxygen at 3 liters/min so still not where she needs to be, but a little better. A good deal of the swelling/edema in her legs has resolved. That is much better. Because she is 93 and has a 93 year old heart and kidneys, the cardiologist is taking a cautious and slow approach to pulling the fluid off in order to avoid putting her into kidney failure. Yes, I am very thankful for his approach although is means more days in the hospital. Currently, we have been given no anticipated discharge date. She continues to received IV diuretics and won’t be discharged until she is transitioned to pills. She is discouraged/depressed by the slow pace of things. She is encouraged by the messages we have received from everyone praying for her and the family. I have told her about or read each one to her. Thank you so much!!! BTW her name is Ruby Richardson or as most friends and family call her Mama Ruby.

Max: Un-blogworthy day in Hattiesburg. The most productive thing I did today was clean many miles worth of bug splatters from the windshield and front cap. And prayed for Anne and her family.

Mississippi and (still) Alabama

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Max: Gary and I met with Chris, our local coordinator from Recover, Rebuild, Restore Southeast Mississippi (R3SM), this morning to see the work sites planned for us next week. We saw two houses. The first is on Edwards Street and needs the bathroom and kitchen finished, the floor refinished and some drywall work. We may also finish up some outside trim work.




The second is on Roby Street and mostly needs some wall finishing and flooring.




These houses were heavily damaged by the January 21, 2017 EF3 tornado and the residents have been displaced since then. We hope to have both of these families back in their homes before the NOMADS leave in a few months.




Chris also gave us a tour of the R3SM building. It is an historic building that was once a hotel used by travelers from the railroad depot across the tracks. The organization has remodeled the building into agency offices and dormitory space for volunteer groups.




Anne: I am still in Tuscaloosa, AL at DCH hospital with my mom. I was at the hospital most of the day. Mom did not have a very good day. They changed her to an IV diuretic, and gave her a big dose of potassium because her potassium was low and they expected the new diuretic to make it drop even more. Something made her nauseated most of the morning. I suspect it was the large dose of potassium. Unfortunately, the new IV diuretic didn’t have much affect this morning and her shortness of breath worsened. Just getting up and going to the bathroom, which is about 6-7 feet from the bed, makes her short of breath. She did respond a little better to the afternoon dose of diuretic but still not what they would like. She is also on strict fluid restriction. That is hard for mom because she really likes her water. We are just trying to keep the water out of sight, so she has to ask for it. Out of sight, out of mind? Seemed to have worked today. But now I’m pretty sure I didn’t drink enough water today since I was keeping my water out of sight too. Silly me.

new shoesThe only other thing I did was go buy a pair of shoes. I forgot to change shoes before I left yesterday and ended up in Tuscaloosa with a ragged but very comfortable pair of tennis shoes as the only shoes I had with me. Since Mom noticed and made comment on me needing to get some new shoes I figured I better go shopping. However, buying shoes is usually a challenge for me. I wear a size 5 and I usually just order them because so few people carry size 5 in the stores. There is a DSW store within about 3 blocks of the hospital so I went there and just went down the aisle looking for anything size 5. I found 3 pair of 5 ½ and then found 1 size 5. Bought it. Not my favorite shoe but it fits and is comfortable. It will do for now. Mom was surprised and pleased when I returned with new shoes on me feet. Please continue to pray for mom and my entire family. These are hard times for us. Praying for a better tomorrow.

Louisiana and Alabama

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Max: Today I went to Baton Rouge with Gary, the NOMADS Disaster Rebuild (DR) Coordinator, to talk to the Disaster Response Team for the Louisiana Conference about the Spring DR project that Anne and I will be starting there in March. The RV parking for the project will be at Francis Asbury UMC, a church that was flooded and asked for conference assistance to repair the church. In return for the assistance the small congregation agreed to give up part to the church to be converted into a volunteer and disaster response center.


After returning to Oak Grove I walked around the parking lot a few time since there are no sidewalks in this area.


Anne: With Max going to Baton Rouge with Gary to prepare for our spring DR, I planned to stay at the RV and do some cleaning, and then a little shopping with Sharon, Gary’s wife. We still need to pick up a few things for FRED and there are several stores not far from Oak Grove. I actually did have about an hour of quiet time puttering around FRED but then I received a text notification. I have really gotten to where I don’t like for my phone to make those noises. And when it’s family my stomach sort of ties in a knot. Last night I had talked to Mom and she wasn’t feeling well and was complaining of more shortness of breath with doing her therapy. The therapist was concerned when he was there late yesterday afternoon. I could tell Mom didn’t feel well and she actually sounded a little more short of breath than usual. I asked her to call the cardiologist this morning to see if she could move up her appointment for next month and I suggested she ask to be seen later this week and I would come take her. Mom did call but she got the appointment for today. That meant my brother who really doesn’t like to handle medical things had to take her. Well, wouldn’t you know, the cardiologist sent Mom from the office to the emergency room. So, one hour after Max left I received a somewhat panic stricken text telling me to please be in route to Tuscaloosa NOW. So much for my plans. Three and a half hours later I arrived at the emergency room and the ER doctor had just entered Mom’s room for the first time. It was a long afternoon. Don’t know why the cardiologist didn’t make Mom a direct admit so she didn’t have to go through all the ER waiting. Long story short, she has fluid in her lungs, causing low oxygen saturation and shortness of breath. She was admitted. I expect they may run some additional tests tomorrow and adjust her medications and hopefully discharge her Thursday. That would be what I pray will happen. As most of you have experienced, it just gets scary when they are 93. And maybe more scary when you know all that could happen. I much preferred to keep my really elderly patients out of the hospital because there are just too many things they can catch and too many things that can go wrong. Please keep us in your prayers. No pictures from me today. Mom would kill me if I posted a picture of her in the hospital gown.



Biking the Natchez Trace

Monday, September 25, 2017

We didn’t have a set schedule for today. The only definite was that we had to be out of our RV site by 3:00pm. We also planned to do some biking on the Natchez Trace and we needed to be in Hattiesburg, MS before dark. With those parameters in mind we slept a little late, but then got ready to go bike riding so we would be back before it got too hot. Overlook signWe drove to the overlook at the Barnett Reservoir, unloaded the bikes and started riding. In this area of the Trace, since there is a good deal of commuter traffic around Jackson, they have built a separate multi-use trail. When we saw the amount of traffic we were glad to ride on the separate trail. This was a very nice wooded area. There were more people using the trail today than we expected.

We just happened to ride up to the Mississippi Craft Center which is located just off the Trace and the bike trail goes beside it. The building is very nice. The craft work inside was pretty amazing. The Center is tasked with preserving the dying arts in all sorts of mediums – wood, fabric, stone, and many more. Entry into the Center is free and it is well worth a visit. They of course also have gift shop.

After visiting the Craft Center we returned to the Trace where we walked on a section of the original dirt trail first walked by Native Americans and later by the soldiers in the war of 1812. That was a neat experience. There was a section of the bike trail closed for maintenance. Since we couldn’t ride that section, we road a portion of the urban multi-use trails in Ridgeland and Jackson. These trails also go through wooded areas as well as at times running beside the roads. There was always some separation from the streets so we felt safer. After returning to the truck we rode to the southern Trace Visitors Information Center. We couldn’t go inside because it is only open on Friday and Saturday.

We returned to FRED, got cleaned up and headed for Hattiesburg. Unfortunately, Highway 49 south of Jackson is in terrible shape. Potholes, rub board sections, it felt like it would vibrate the cabinets off the walls. We were very thankful that the further we drove the better the road became. We drove to Oak Grove UMC, just west of Hattiesburg, parked in the area with RV hookups, met with our team leaders and settled in for the next several days. Looking forward to some good times here.

Our home for the next few days
Our home for the next few days

Sunday On The Road

Sunday, September 24, 2017

We saw this on our odometer when we started out this morning.
We saw this on our odometer when we started out this morning.

We had a restful night last night, except it was a little too warm. We ran the generator to cool FRED off, but didn’t leave it on all night so we got a little warm. Otherwise, everything was fine. The rest area did fill up with 18 wheeler drivers getting their rest. Of course, their rigs were running but inside FRED it was just white noise and didn’t bother us at all.

Eastwood Memorial UMC
Eastwood Memorial UMC

When we got up this morning we decided at the last minute to go to church in Caruthersville, MO at Eastwood Memorial UMC. We went to early service which was a small service held in the chapel. It was a lovely chapel and a very welcoming community of believers. We really enjoyed the service, the pastor and congregation. One of the life long members of the church showed us their amazing pipe organ.After service one of the members took us to see their sanctuary which was beautiful. The pipe organ was amazing and even more amazing is that in the small community they have someone to play the pipes every Sunday. Wish we could have stayed for the 11:00 service too, but we had too many miles to go. One of the things the pastor talked about during the service was the two week mission project the church just completed. They hosted Operation Healthy Delta Innovative Readiness Training which is a military training exercise that provides no-cost, basic health care services to the Southeastern Missouri region. A UMC in Charleston, MO joined Eastwood as the two locations this year. While the members of Eastwood were not involved in the actual health care, they worked hard to show hospitality to the service men and women stationed at their church. For example, they hosted a fish fry for them last week. We really enjoyed our time at Eastwood and would definitely stop there again the next time we are in the area. We will include them in our prayers.

The children’s room was decorated with these beautiful murals.

After worship one of the members gave us some pears and another give us some beeswax chocolate chip cookies. The cookies didn’t survive long enough to get pictures but they were very, very good. We are going to try to find a recipe and learn to make those cookies. After a tour of the church we climbed back into FRED and headed back to I-55 South. We stopped about every two hours to change drivers and reached Jackson, MS uneventfully.

Tonight we are at Timberlake Campground on the Barnett Reservoir just outside of Jackson, MS. It is a large, beautiful lake. The campground has nice concrete pads, full service and we are right on the lake. Nice, quiet peaceful location. Too bad we can’t stay a few more days. We will have to come back here sometime. We plan to ride our bikes in the morning, weather permitting. We are very close to the Natchez Trace so we may do some riding there or on some bike trails around the reservoir. We will see what tomorrow brings.