We are getting older. And so are our friends and family. And we are losing some of them, seven in the last few months. We remember all of them fondly.

My cousin, Sandy died last Fall.

Sandy grew up in MN, got married to Klaus, raised a family, and worked for many years at a Law office. We will miss her at our Senior Cousin’s lunch get-togethers.


Our friend Ted died in November.

Ted and Karen, were long-time Foretravel friends. They were full-timers for 13 years. They stopped and sold their coach just before Covid-19. We met up with them whenever we could. We played Quiddler (a card game) using ZOOM from wherever we were every couple of weeks. Ted liked to wear silly hats when we played. In Quiddler, you use your cards to spell words and Ted would always try to make a story with his words no matter how little sense it made.

We miss Ted. He was a steady hand for me during cancer treatments, always had a smile, was a bit contrarian at times, and a good and ready friend.

One of Ted’s Hats

A dear friend and gracious and gentle lady, Shirl slipped away from us, her husband Norm, and her many friends towards the end of last year.

We had known them from our stays in Fredericksburg, TX where they spent the winters and went home to Colorado for the summers. Norm and Shirl moved to Fredericksburg full-time a few years ago.

Last winter when we were here in Fredericksburg she was feeling good. She was even going to Line Dancing and the Texas Two Step evenings wearing her fancy cowgirl boots.

I talked to her a couple of times, last fall. She kept her spirits up even as she began hospice care, her kids got to come and see her, and then she was gone.

There is an empty spot here in Fredericksburg without our friend Shirl. We still see Norm almost every day and many of her other friends in the RV park too on our daily walks with Maggie. Shirl is missed by everyone who knew her.


Another Foretravel friend, Brad, lived on a small farm in western Virginia. He liked the retired farmer lifestyle. He raised feeder calves from Spring to Fall. He had a collection of tractors for every job, a Foretravel in the barn, and a big selection of side-by-side and 4-seat ATVs. He had trails that he rode on at the farm but mostly like to take his favorite (usually new) off-road machine to the desert in Arizona in the winter and the sand dunes in Idaho in the summer. He would spend a couple of months at each place. We met Brad and his wife Phyllis at both places when we had our Jeep Wrangler and went off exploring with him. He was really surprised that our Jeep could do as well as it did in the sand dunes. I told him it was just like driving in the snow.

Brad was riding one of his ATVs on a trail on his farm and had an accident that left him with serious injuries. He died shortly after. He was in his 80s doing what he liked most of all.

Brad was quite a character who will be missed by many Foretravel folks, Phyllis, and his standard poodle best buddy, Barney.

Brad at the Dunes in Idaho

Our friend Rudy was determined to get me to meet Chappell and his wife Mary Elizabeth who lived in Nacogdoches, TX. Chappell was a skilled woodworker because he wanted to be. Before he retired, he repaired and restored antique clocks at his shop in Houston. He brought all of this detail skill with him to Nacogdoches when they retired. Their home in Nacogdoches is like a clock museum. His small woodworking shop out back reminded me of pictures of Andy Rooney’s shop, stuff everywhere, piles of boards, machines pushed into every corner, projects underway here and there, and then emerging out the door with beautiful results. From a small box made from curly maple to a large cherry kitchen table, patience and skills learned over a lifetime were evident.

We shared our projects every time we met. We shared a lifelong passion for learning new skills and improving all the time.

Chappell was dealing with back pain when we last saw him less than a year ago. It didn’t get better and later in the year, they discovered it was because of cancer. He died shortly after this diagnosis.


Another friend from the Fredericksburg RV Park, Curtis, exemplified (to me as I imagined it) the kinder, gentler side of a Texas gentleman just as Chappell had. Curtis and his dear wife, Peggy, have been here in the same spot in the RV park as long as we have been coming here. They have a home on a lake about 60 miles north but spend most of their time here where friends are closer. Curtis died in early January.

Curtis helped us understand a lot of the personal level of Texas history, what it was like over the past few generations in the Hill Country. And he organized twice-weekly Texas Hold’em card games. What a collection of players, mostly serious and skilled about the game. Many who we’re no longer in the RV Park. It was a $10 buy-in, and the top three at the end of the allotted time shared to pot. Sometimes there was only one or two left.

Like our Quiddler games, everyone was willing to help the new guy learn. I sort of understood the fundamentals but my strategy was weak at best. I never won any money but always enjoyed playing and the players.

Curtis Looking for that Ace He Dropped

Susan’s cousin, Patsy (Patrica) died in February.

Patsy and her husband, Joe were long-time Florida residents and raised their family there. Patsy and Joe got back to see friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We would often see them when they did. Those trips got less frequent and then stopped after Patsy’s mom, Susan’s aunt, Jessie died.

We visited them once in our winter motorhome travels at their home near Orlando. We will miss Patsy too.

We start seeing this as more real as we get older. When we were younger and a grandparent or maybe later an aunt or uncle would pass away, it was almost surprising. This is what happens to old people, we thought. Wait, we are old people. When my Dad died 25 years ago it hardly seemed real for a long time. And then my Mom died, leaving my generation of cousins waiting for that surprise phone call about something we have now come to expect.

Treasure and celebrate your loved ones, friends, and family. Someday you may be the sole survivor.

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan and Maggie Mae

Michigan, August, 2022, Part 2

We left St Ignace and headed south across the Mighty Mac, The Mackinaw Bridge, to the lower part of Michigan. The entire bridge is 26,372 ft long, 28 ft short of 5 miles long. It is the fifth-longest suspension bridge in the world.

The Mighty Mac

There are days when the winds cause the speed limits to be reduced or even close the bridge. This time and the last two times we crossed the bridge the speed limit for semis was 40 mph so that is what we did. And all three times the outside lane was closed for maintenance (painting). Susan was glad we drove on the inside lane away from the edge of the bridge but the inside lane of the main suspension section is also an open grating road surface. Probably for the wind to go through and for rain and snow drainage. In any case, it is a noisy road surface. We are still here, we made it.

East Jordan is 25 miles or so inland from the east shore of Lake Michigan. It is right at the end of the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix and a small river feeds that end of the lake. It is part of the bigger Lake Charlevoix which empties into Lake Michigan at the small city of Charlevoix.

East Jordan is pretty small and its primary claim to fame was the East Jordan Foundry where they recycled almost anything iron or steel and made cast iron manhole covers, street drains, and lots more. The foundry was right on the edge of town on the lake and made quite a racket at times. A few years ago the foundry moved to a new and modern facility several miles from town. The old site is now quiet but the new site makes even more of these cast iron things.

The East Jordan Foundry in the Background.

And East Jordan has a nice municipal campground. Perfect for us to visit Amanda and Douglas who spend the summer here in their motorhome. And they have cabins too so Ted and Karen drove up from the Cincinnati area as well. We went sailing on Douglas and Amanda’s boat, walked, played Quiddler, tossed bags of something in a Corn Hole tournament, went out for dinner, made dinners to share, and did a big pancake breakfast. More than anything we had a chance to be together, to share our time, to reinforce the bonds that make us such good friends.

Douglas and Amanda Greeting Us

Amanda and Douglas make and sell jewelry at select craft shows, one was the weekend before we arrived at South Haven a couple hours south of East Jordan. It was the International Blueberry Festival. The last time we were there blueberries were plentiful and cheap. Amanda brought us 2-10 lb boxes of fresh giant berries. They cost about $30. We had blueberries with everything including pancakes, a blueberry crumble, and especially oatmeal in the morning. All that was left were spread out on cake pans and frozen. They freeze well. We can hardly get enough blueberries.

Here they are watching an intense Corn Hole match – and making jewelry at the same time. Well, Amanda was busy.

Ted and Karen drove from the Cincinnati area. They stayed in a cabin at the campground. They brought what cooking and coffee-making equipment they needed so they were all set. And Ted brought his growler, filled with local craft beer, necessary for the big match.

We tried the local pizza shop one night for dinner, it was pretty good. We have discovered that local pizza preferences and tastes vary widely across the country. What is popular in one area may not be quite what you like.

We went into Charlevoix one day too for a bit of exploring. Charlevoix is a small town on the east side of Lake Michigan. It was a popular destination for the privileged Chicago wealthy who came to stay in fancy resorts or, as many did,

to build large homes in neighborhoods made up mostly of other wealthy owners. Most of these homes are still there. They came mostly by railroad, much easier than driving. These neighborhoods are primarily on a bay on the west end of Lake Charlevoix where there are now, and likely then as well, large marinas for big boats.

The bay is connected to Lake Michigan by a channel that is crossed by a Chicago-style lift bridge. I am sure it was simply a creek or small river that made the connection long ago and was finally dug out to make a regular channel with a lighthouse to mark the entrance.

The Charlevoix Boat Channel
The Boat Channel Lift Bridge

There is a small sailing school that we visited on the bay too. People, mostly kids, start in small boats with one per boat and move up to bigger boats with two people on board and then bigger boats. Lake Charlevoix has lots of big and fast power boats but is a very popular sailing lake.

Douglas and Amanda have a 22 ft sailboat. They were hemming and hawing about buying it. It was for sale in Iowa. I told them to buy it or I would, and they did and immersed themselves in sailing jargon, techniques, and best practices. They have become competent sailors now.

It Is a Nice Boat.
The Ballast Crew

Here we are in a calm state. We cannot remember the good ship’s name but we kidding called it the SS Minow. Most of our sail seemed to be at a death-defying angle to one side or the other. I think Douglas was trying for a new world speed record.

We had a great time, maybe I did more than Susan, but fun to share some time with Douglas and Amanda and their new passion for sailing.

Dinner in a Boyne City Brewery

We drove around to the east end of Lake Charlevoix for an early supper at a brewery/pub. The food was good, the company was the best.

We sat around the campfire in the evenings spinning yarns (nautical speak) and other tall tales, mostly remembering all of the great times we had shared over the several years we have known one another. None of us “live” near each other so we have to choose to make the effort to get together and share some time.

A couple of years earlier while we were in Fredericksburg, Susan and I went to the Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, TX about halfway to Johnson City. They make exceptional Bourbon. Ted and Karen enjoy a glass of bourbon on occasion. My last occasion was in 1984. So I decided to get a bottle to share with them. It was two years later in East Jordan when we first pulled the cork on that Small Batch bottle and began the process of sniffing and sipping and enjoying over a couple of evenings. I was keenly aware it was bourbon, it packed a wallop. Somehow with plenty of help from Ted and Karen, we managed to create an empty bottle memorial for that visit.

Ted Campbell

None of us knows what the future holds and while this trip ended with the joy of good friends sharing time we will never see Ted again. Just three months later Ted died, his heart just stopped. All of the heroic efforts to get it to restart just weren’t enough. It was shocking news, very hard on our dear friend, Karen. We miss Ted dearly.

Today is the day to renew connections, commit to getting together, call someone when you think of it, dust off memories, and celebrate all we hold most dear, what we are most grateful for. Our loved ones, our family, our friends. These are the people that get us through every day, every situation, every one of life’s challenges.

Ted was a critical foundation stone for me getting through my cancer treatments. He left us before they were complete but with the commitment and determination to see it through.

From a song by Jackson Browne, “For a Dancer” …

Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan and Maggie

Michigan, August, 2022

We had planned for some time to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and then cross the Mighty Mac Bridge to East Jordan on the South Arm of Lake Charlevois to see our friends Amanda and Douglas and Ted and Karen.

We stopped for the night on the way to Michigan at Holtwood Campsite Municipal Park Campground in Oconto, WI. It was a really nice spot, we had a pull-through site, easy in and out the next morning. We made a reservation for the way home too.

Lakeshore Rest Stop
Rest Stop Beach

There is a very nice rest stop on the road heading east along the lakeshore. We stopped for almost an hour or so for lunch and a break

And then to Lakeshore Park Campground on the north shore of Lake Michigan just west of St. Ignace. We have been to this campground before and it is quiet and has a great view of the lake.

We Had a Nice Shade Tree
From the Beach you can see the Mackinaw Bridge

We spent a day on Mackinac Island. The ferry got us over and back. We mostly just wandered around exploring. We found a place for lunch that was off the main track. It was good.

The ferry ride went out to the bridge and underneath it before going to Mackinac Island. We saw the Viking Ocantis, a brand new Great Lakes cruise ship as we came into the docks.

Viking Ocantis

The small tender boats were ferrying passengers back and forth.

As usual, it was busy in town. We walked by a bed and breakfast that we stayed in several years ago. it is right on the harbor. From the front, it looks pretty normal, from the side it is much bigger. There is a gift shop and a nice coffee/pastry shop at the rear.

Coffee and a pastry morning treat in the sun was nice. up and down the Main Street, checked out the toy store, the kite shop, looked into a dozen fudge shops. We resisted but broke down and bought a jigsaw puzzle with a ship going under the Mackinac (it is pronounced mackinaw) Bridge, a Great Lakes patch and a patch from Mackinac Island with an 8.2 on it. The 8.2 is the length of the bike path around the island. We did that last time we were here. It is a very nice ride, mostly level along the lakeshore Bring your own bikes – they are very expensive to rent on the island.

We had a nice lunch at the Yankee Rebel Tavern. It was not all that busy given how busy it was but we were a couple of blocks off Main Street and past the normal lunch hour. Then all the way to the West End and back to the docks for the ferry ride back.

We stopped at Clyde’s Drive In on the way back to the campground to get something for dinner. We have been to the Clyde’s in Sault Saint Marie and enjoyed the food there. This one is bigger and it was slammed. It took about 10 minutes just to get an order in and a 30 minute wait. And then the place really got busy. We were patient and rewarded with hot off the grill burgers and onion rings. We made a bee-line for home and gobbled them up.

On Saturday we went north and east along the north end of Lake Huron to the small town of Hessel for the one day a year 45th Annual Antique Wooden Boat Show. We have had this on our list to do when in the Upper Peninsula but missed it several times.

The north part of Lake Huron is made up of many long skinny rock islands and a few big ones carved by glaciers. They are called the Les Cheneaux Islands.

Every year has a custom artwork poster, this one was from 2017. The Boat Show had well over 100 wooden boats from as far back as 1917. Everyone was spectacular in their own way. Many were carefully and faithfully restored from near wrecks. Many had been owned for generations and maintained along the way. They came from as far away as Maine and Louisiana. Most of the local owners stored their treasured boats in almost as spectacular boat houses.

It was a beautiful sunny day. All of the boats were in slips in the marina and the visitors made their way back and forth on the docks. I took well over a hundred pictures. Every boat from every angle was breathtaking.

When you think of wooden boats you think of Chris Craft. There are many of these here including hull number 4 and a Chis Craft built in Italy at their factory in the Lake District of Northern Italy. But what surprised me was the dozen or more nameplates represented from all over. High-end, high-quality wooden boats with inboard engines and two or three cockpits were built all across the Great Lakes, New York, and up into Maine.

And some of the most famous were racing boats. Here is a Gar Wood Chris Craft with two turbocharged V16 engines. The driver and mechanic sat in the very rear.

This is a fairly rare three-cockpit boat. The engine is in between the second and third row of seats.

It is hard to pick out pictures that do the boats justice. The absolutely perfect, glass smooth finishes and perfect woodwork were a joy to see. The descriptions of dozens of coats of varnish, hand sanded between each layer to get where it needed to be are nothing short of woodworking art.

These boats ran from a 17 ft canoe to a 49’ cabin cruiser.

Miss Lilly, a 1917 canoe was a crowd favorite, and Susan’s too.

We had lunch there and visited the tent with t-shirts too late to get a beautifully embroidered shirt so I settled for a long-sleeved t-shirt. I came to find that it was a very comfortable shirt on those cool evenings. I have since added a couple more to my traveling collection.

Next time you are thinking about an upper peninsula adventure include the Antique Wooden Boat Show. It is well worth the time.

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Life’s Challenges, Additions, and Rewards


A few of you know this, but not many. I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in 2017 after a long overdue PSA test followed by a prostate biopsy. The Doc said it was at a very early stage and that like most men at this stage, I could just continue getting a periodic PSA test and a biopsy once a year. The “wait and watch” approach. Many men will get prostate cancer and eventually die of something else before cancer becomes an issue so waiting and watching seemed to make sense.

By the fall of 2021, my PSA results had been slowly going up and the results of the last biopsy indicated that perhaps a more aggressive approach was warranted. We were ready to depart for the winter and the Doc assured me that waiting another 6 months wouldn’t make any difference. So I made the appropriate appointments for the following spring and we left.

There were two approaches at the time to deal with prostate cancer, surgery to remove the prostate gland or radiation. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I chose a surgical path, it was more definite. The radiation option while usually effective made a follow-up surgical approach if needed much more difficult.

Surgery was scheduled for July 2022 with a two to three month recovery. The surgery was robotic and scheduled for 280 minutes. It didn’t take quite that long. As they were starting the initial sedatives all I wanted was to get it done and wake up. After the surgery I stayed overnight in the hospital and went home the next day.

The recovery process wasn’t too bad. I had five or six incisions from 1 to 2 inches long, it looked like I was in a knife fight and lost. I had a couple of follow-up appointments and all was progressing well. I was scheduled for a PET scan to see if there were any indication that the prostate cancer had spread. A post-surgical pathology report detected a very small amount of prostate cancer in one of eight lymph nodes that were routinely removed with the prostate.

The PET scan showed no other indications of prostate cancer but did show a positive indication of something in a lymph node in my neck. There was no swelling or pain there. The medical oncologist scheduled a biopsy which indicated a type of lymphoma cancer. A bone marrow biopsy confirmed cancer had not spread into my bones. And another lymphoma-specific PET scan confirmed that it was confined to the lymph node where it was found.

So when we were just over a month away from leaving for the winter, we met with the medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist who both recommended a 12-session focused radiation treatment. I scheduled the initial visit and scheduled the 12 sessions of radiation. These went over the Thanksgiving period so it stretched out a bit. We ended up leaving about 10 days later than we anticipated but still got off for the winter.

Radiation Mask

In the initial visit, the technicians make a mask that holds your head in exactly the same place for each of the radiation treatments. You are the mold for the mask so it is rather snug, with not much wiggle room. The radiation machine is sort of like a CAT scan machine. You lie on a bed (plank) that goes up and down and in and out and the radiation machine rotates around you. part of the machine is what emits the radiation and part is like an x-ray machine to do real-time scanning. Radiation is a high-energy form of x-rays. The high-energy beam kills the cancer cells or damages their DNA so they can’t reproduce.

Radiation Treatment Machine (not me in it

Each session lasts about 15 minutes from the time you walk in to walking out. The actual radiation time is about 2 minutes. In what seemed to be a fairly short time the radiation treatments for the lymphoma cancer were completed, follow up exams and blood work confirmed there was no indication of any remaining lymphoma cancer. These tests and exams are repeated every six months for 5 years.

Before we left I had a follow-up PSA test. The results indicated that the prostate cancer was undetectable. The prostate surgeon urgently wanted me to start a hormone treatment before we left. They are very cautious when there is any indication of cancer may have spread outside of the prostate. A six-month dose would work while we were gone and a follow-up after we got back would determine what was next. So I agreed, got the shot and we left.

This was a pretty brutal treatment. I had no idea what to expect but found out quickly that it was like a very severe and intense menopause, often called manopause. Intense hot flashes, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, loss of strength, mood swings, loss of muscle mass and endurance and weight gain. It also really screwed up my diabetes care. My diabetes insulin use doubled. These drugs are in the same group that are used for chemical castration. They stop testosterone production and starve any remaining prostate cancer. There was no backing out once you get the six month dose and no means to ease the effects. It made for a pretty uncomfortable winter.

When we got back and we met with the prostate surgeon I told him I did not want to continue on with the drugs. He said OK and said I had to wait 4 months to get another PSA test to see how I was doing.

My primary care doc started me on Trulicity to help reestablish some diabetes management. This is another story.


And while doing all of this we decided to become dog parents. At this point, we just got on the list to pick from a litter not yet conceived. A Petite English Multi-Generation Goldendoodle. This will be another ongoing story. We are excited to have this prospect to look forward to. Sally and Jax’s puppies are expected to be 25 to 30 pounds as adults, right where we wanted.

The Parents

While waiting we went to Michigan for a month, more on that later. It was a nice diversion

Sallie and Jax’s Puppy Birth Announcement, Early September
Puppies were born in September

When we got back from Michigan my PSA test was again undetectable. Wonderful. The prostate Surgeon was unimpressed. He wanted me to start a 39-session radiation treatment. We were shocked. With no prostate cancer indicated, Why? We got no good answer from the prostate surgeon. I called and we got in to see my medical oncologist the next day and the radiation oncologist the day after. While I was uncomfortable with the prostate surgeon both of these oncologists took the time to help us understand why this was suggested and why it made sense to do it. The radiation oncologist made it pretty clear, this was the best path going forward to minimize the chances of prostate cancer reoccurrence and the best quality of life going forward. We agreed.

The next step was the initial session where they did CAT scans to locate the targets and apply tattoo alignment marks on either side of my pelvis and below the belly button. Rather than a mask which held you in a very fixed position for a tightly focused radiation beam, these treatments used the initial CAT scans and alignment tattoos to get you aligned so that the radiation where it needs to get. This happened the next day. My 39 day schedule was set up at the same time. This was on a Thursday, treatment started the following Monday morning. I met with the radiation oncologist every Thursday.

I had to be very careful to not get sick with Covid or anything else during this process. There is no pause in the treatment process, you just start over. And we had a puppy on the way and a departure date on the calendar.

Puppy Selection Day

In late October, about halfway through radiation treatment, puppy selection day came. Sally and Jax’s brood were six weeks old. We were #4 on the picking list and while we had looked at all of the 5 female puppies online and had a couple in mind, we had no idea who would pick which puppies in the choices ahead of us.

Our time came, we were on zoom with the breeder in Georgia. She told us that they had the first choice, #2 chose a male, and #3 chose a male. And then she surprised us by saying they were going to pass on their selection, they had enough females for breeding at that time. We had three choices. One was higher on the personality evaluation scale and the breeder suggested that she would be a bit harder to train and more independent. Pink Girl was very cute and right where we wanted on the personality scale. Blue Girl was also very attractive, same score on the personality scale, and weighed 1 pound less. The breeder said this would probably mean a 5-pound difference as an adult. We chose Pink Girl. We had already decided to name her Maggie Mae.


We had thought about driving to Georgia to pick up Maggie but we were in the last half of radiation treatment. The breeder connected us to a Flight Nanny who would pick up our puppy and deliver her to us at the Minneapolis/St Paul airport. The cost was about the same as it would have cost for a 6-700 mile side trip and several days in RV parks. So when Maggie was 8 weeks old she flew to Minnesota with Tosha, the flight nanny.

Maggie Arrived with Tosha
The Handoff of the Tiny Package was Made

We stopped at Fort Snelling National Cemetery to introduce Maggie to John and Dorothy, my parents, and to give Maggie a chance to do what she might have needed to do. We are sure my folks would have liked Maggie as much as they did our last dog, Xenia.

Maggie at 9 Weeks

It is hard for us to recall just how tiny Maggie was as we were finishing up radiation treatments and getting ready to depart right after Thanksgiving. She got her first Vet visit and the next set of vaccinations. All was good.

All the while radiation treatment were continuing I had been showing the staff at the clinic pictures of Maggie. She arrived about 10 days before my last treatment. We brought Maggie into the Clinic a couple days before my last treatment to meet the Staff. It was our first hint at just how popular she might be. They were all glad to meet her.

Ringing the Bell

And finally the last radiation session, ringing the bell is a significant event at the end of this process. I was glad to do it and at the same time immensely grateful for the support and guidance I got from Susan and from my oncology team to make this treatment choice, to get it scheduled so that we could leave on time and to have the very good chance of no reoccurrence of this cancer and opportunity for a longer and healthier life. And at the same time to have chosen to add Maggie to our lives.

If your a guy and have not had a PSA test, check with your Doctor and get one done. It is a simple blood test. Then you will know how you are doing. Stay ahead of this, don’t ignore it, a sooner solution is usually going to be simpler.

Life’s Challenges, Additions, and Rewards. Life is not static. All of this was going on while the projects in the last post were going on and we had a really great trip to Michigan. An eventful last year and a half.

More Later, Much Love.

Roger and Susan and Maggie Mae