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Day Two.

We woke up after a comfortable night sleeping on the side of a residential street in Gerberville, CA. Dad walked a block or so and brought Mom and I back some Cafe Mocha and we hit the road. We hopped onto the 101 Fwy and we were on the way….a crucial error soon had us wishing that we could rewind and start over. The sign up ahead gave us a choice of continuing down the 101 or going down the beautiful coastal route…HWY 1…Well we chose the Beautiful, Stunning, Picturesque road to HELL.

I must confess, the error was mostly my fault. You must understand that I have inherited from my mother the Beachcomber gene and have been an ardent fan of the sea-breeze in my face as I pick up the gifts from the sea… sea glass. On the Coast Highway, in the town of Fort Bragg, there is a beach that is like Disneyland to sea glass collectors…we decided we should go there and that set us up for one harrowing day.

The California Coast Highway has been praised in tour books, on websites. and documentaries..it has been the backdrop for many a movie and it holds a certain allure for anyone who has visual abilities.  Described as unparalleled beauty, awe-inspiring views of the coast, nature at its finest, glorious, and breath-taking, along with a few 1ooo other adjectives trying to capture its true essence….all of which are quite true. Very true! It is stunning in its beauty. First you drive through the beautiful forest, with tall majestic trees and beautiful ferns and wild flowers and it smells so fresh and clean…then you break out onto the coast. The sea sparkles like a thousand diamonds and the waves roll in one after the other crashing onto the rocks, throwing up beautiful sprays producing prisms of rainbow colors into the air. Seal lie on the rocks and beautiful beaches and rock croppings provide inspiration for artists and songwriters…but they forget to write about how you keep your eyes clinched tightly shut so you won’t have to see how far the cliff drops down into the ocean and they forget the lessons on how to control your vivid imagination from picturing yourself plunging over those cliffs in a 1989 Allegro RV with Ray Cook at the wheel, and Carol Cook clinging to the RV curtains for dear life….without wings or angelic intervention. I kept looking over the side from time to time and not seeing crashed cars or RVs on the rocks helped me keep my sanity on those narrow, curvy roads. Thousands of people drive on that Highway and are still alive to tell the tale…we would survive too.

Remember, Dad had careers as an RTD bus driver in the City of Los Angeles and he also drove Semi trucks with double tractors all over the place. We are talking about a very experienced driver; so I kept reminding myself  that this man knows how to handle BIG AND LONG MACHINES…because this RV is BIG.  However, when Dad started squealing on some of those hairpin turns, confidence flew out the window…Mom was sitting at the table, looking towards the back, so there was limited screaming on her part…just white knuckles and loud gasps to SLOW DOWN RAY. Okay, this is a little crude, but it describes the ride well and this is a quote …so don’t blame me. Dad said: “My arsehole done bit buttonholes in the seat cushion!”  By the time we got off that road, my neck muscles and shoulders were so tense..What I would not do for a massage..but we are alive! To tell the truth, now that it’s over, I would do it all again. It was hilarious, invigorating, scary and an experience that I will look back on and laugh about for a long time.

We decided to get off that Highway once we got down to Bodega Bay…so we cut across to Petaluma. There we met Donna Pallaski, a long-time friend from our Covina days and enjoyed a visit while dining on Indian Food. After a nice catch-up session, we said goodbye, climbed into the RV and went down another side street, where we parked, pulled the drapes and fell into bed…happy to be alive and off the beautiful @#&%$ Coast Highway.

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We’ve heard it for years. The ideas mentioned in passing or discussed at length over the kitchen table. Mom being the most desirous, I think.   To buy, make, or fashion a motor home out of some combination of truck, van or semi trailer.

Well now she got her wish and all I could hear today when I called was her screams. Screaming woman

Yes… screaming at Dad to,  “Stop!” “Slow down!” “Watch out!” And Tamie wasn’t any better.  

The road looks a little different from five feet up and 1,000 feet down. Hwy 1 is a shear drop into the Pacific and neither Mom nor Tamie liked the view, I guess. Because they were hyperventilating between the screaming and Dad was laughing.

I got this much in just the few minutes I was able to talk to them today. My advice was that she’d finally gotten what she wished for… a motor home to go across the country in. So she ought to just “shut up and hang on”. That went over well enough for everyone to laugh but then we lost the connection. I’m assuming that they just went into a “dead zone” and we’ll pick up the reception later. In the meantime I’m sure that all three of them are questioning the joys of recreational living.

Ray and Carol Cook are officially on the road….Dad bought or should I say “stole” a 1989 Allegro 28 foot motor home. Despite it’s age, it is in great shape…having been tenderly cared for by it’s former owners, Marlin and Carol from Reedsport Oregon. Marlin is a tender-heart and just one look at Dad’s Teddy Bear eyes, he practically gave him the motorhome.

We brought it home, shined it up, loaded it up and now we are definitely on the road.

DAY1…We left North Bend, and went to Coo’s Bay where we ate breakfast, went to WalMart and bought some la-dee-da toilet paper that the RV requires, checked our tire pressure and we were off. Traveling down the 101 through Oregon’s coastal towns….beautiful. We crossed over into California and the sun started dipping. We got into the redwoods and were awed by the majestic trees and the light filtering through the trees and dancing on the road. Dad was not going to pay $35 for an RV space…so we keep driving. We finally got to Gerberville and stopped on a side street, drew all the curtains and went to sleep….Motor home did great…Dad drove and hummed and sang….Success!  DAY 1 OVER.

I sit here at Mom and Dad’s house typing away.  …the dishwasher is gurgling, Dad’s Essiac Tea is simmering on the stove, Mom is outside trying to corral all her fish into a bucket so she can clean out her pond and in the background is the sound of Dad’s weed wacker taming the North 40, and the air is filled with the beautiful, fresh, allergy inducing scent of cut grass….all this in preparation to hit the highways tomorrow.

Recent developments have caused the Cook family to go into action. Teri had come out to Oregon from Florida to attend the District Convention in May with Mom and Dad. When she got here, she found Dad in bed feeling pretty badly. Seems he had the flu for a few weeks and he was having back pain. Not liking the way he looked, she got him into see the doctor….long story short, Dad’s cancer has not behaved and is now rearing it’s ugly head and making itself known.

On May 19th, Dad underwent a CT scan. The scan revealed emphysematous changes in both lungs and pulmonary fibrosis, so the doctor ordered an oxygen concentrator to assist Dad’s breathing while he sleeps. There is no cancer in his lungs; however, the CT scan did reveal that Dad has cancer on his abdominal wall.

The Doctor ordered a PET  scan and when the results came back, Marta, Mom and Dad were in the Doctor’s office and Teri and I were on the phone to hear what the Doctor said. It was not good news. The PET scan revealed that there were three areas of concern…the abdominal wall, the area between the abdomen and the spine and on the left side of his neck near his carotid artery. The Doctor recommended that Dad meet with an Oncologist to discuss his options; however, he told him that surgery was not an option and described it as “Cherry-Picking”, saying that Dad probably had multiple areas of cancer. He described the cancer as Stage IV and very aggressive. Not what we wanted to hear.

I flew up to Oregon to attend the Oncologist appointment with Dad, Mom and Marta. The Oncologist…Dr. Buchannan, a fine looking young man with a no-nonsense, friendly manner discussed the findings and confirmed the surgeons thoughts that surgery is not an option. Of course Dad had already stated that NO WAY, NO HOW would he consider chemotherapy….and Dr. Buchannan said that Chemo would not be smart right now. Basically, he told Dad that he should go and do what he wants to do while he is feeling up to it and keep an eye open for any symptoms.

So…since Dad and Mom just had a great visit with Roger and his family, and Marta and her’s, Dad  has stated that he wants to go and see Tonja and the kids, go to New York, down the East Coast to visit friends and family and back through Texas to see Leanna and through Arizona to see Kyle, then head back up the West Coast. He said he wanted to do it in a RV…so we have spent the last week looking at what is available. After looking at his options, considering the gas prices, costs of insurance, cost of RV parks and such…for now it looks like its the old Ford that’s gonna pull the weight. Teri and I had tried to talk him into flying to Tonja’s and then she would pick him up in Missouri and take him on the East Coast tour…but it sounds like Dad isn’t going to go for the winged-thing.

UPDATE:  per Teri     motor home    Yep, he changed his mind.  … Or rather he made a decision and purchased a motor home on Thursday, packed it Friday and left this morning.   Of course he isn’t following the intended route as published above.   Which means I can’t tell you anything about their plans except that there is enough evidence to believe they are headed to Tamie’s in Ventura.   I can say that with a measure of confidence because Tamie is riding in the motor home with them and she has to get back to work some time soon.    Other than that, I can issue fair warning that Ray and Carol haven’t changed, they are liable to show up at your door unexpected.  So if you have a desperate need to keep the house in order go ahead; otherwise Mom and Dad won’t care, they’ll just want to see your smiling face.    And since they are coming fully self contained you won’t even have to worry about making up beds.   teheehee…

Dad’s feeling good and while not looking forward to the heat he is looking forward to the trip.   So stay tuned and we might be able to keep you posted on his ETA in your area.

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Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

You Are Loved!

June 2009
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