Checking out Lake Champlain

LOCATION: Burlington, Vermont

CAMPGROUND: North Beach Municipal Park. See previous description

WEATHER: Cooler. High 65. The TV weatherman was ecstatic as he talked about this “relief from the heat”

We made a day trip around beautiful Lake Champlain. The lake is huge. Burlington sits on one of the edges of the lake. Our campground actually has a nice beach area that is part of the lake. Our destination today was Plattsburgh, NY, across the lake, to shop at a Target.

To get there, we drove on causeways over several islands, then took a 15-minute ferry ride across the rest of the lake.

We found a very nice brewpub and shared a grilled chicken sandwich. George is not drinking much beer due to his surgery, but we sipped on a shared IPA.

Shopping was a success – some new linens and groceries. We took a different way back to the campground, going north around the lake, just feet away from the Canadian border.

Speaking of borders…..When we came across the other day with the Airstream, we knew that they would stop us and search the trailer. I had diligently used up all the fresh vegetables and fruit so that would not be a problem. I stripped all the leaves from my basil plant, but George wanted to “push the envelope” to see what would happen with leaving the little stems intact. Well – we found out. As expected, the border control people searched the trailer and found nothing suspicious. He asked about the basil plant stems in the flowerpot sitting prominently in the backseat of the pickup. We said we had bought the plants in Canada. They asked the normal questions and what we were doing in Canada. George told them about his surgery, thinking we would get sympathetic treatment. We thought we were good to go, when at the end of the “interrogation”, he said we would have to park and go inside to retrieve our passports. What??? The waiting room was full of questionable-looking people. We waited and waited. We could see the border people really giving some people a hard time. Finally they called our name. The first question was…..”so tell us more about this basil plant”. That is why we had been called in! We were severely scolded about that and then were asked about firewood, which we also had. We got a lecture about that, too. Then, I had to go back to the pickup while they watched me lug the wood and the plant to the garbage can. The border patrol woman grumbled that had she known we had so much firewood that she would have made us return to Canada to dump it. So, that was an interesting experience where George found out about what would happen trying to bring a plant across the border. Never again!

So, today, we kept well away from the border station. We drove through lots of little villages on the islands, and stopped at this farmers’ market to buy some fresh veg. Fall is in the air!

DINNER: Chili over couscous. Hit the spot on this cool evening.

Vermont has kind people, too!

CAMPGROUND: North Beach Municipal Park. See previous description

LOCATION: Burlington, Vermont

WEATHER: Beautiful. Unseasonably warm. Breaking temp records – 86 high

We are here in Burlington so that George can receive some post-surgery care here at the Univ of VT Hospital. He needs some blood work done and dressing changes on his leg, where they had cut a long line to remove a vein used for the bypass.

I dropped him off at the ER entrance, and attempted to park. I cannot tell a lie – I am a terrible parker and an even worse “backer-upper”. The parking garage had a sign saying that some of the deck had low clearance, so I had to find a spot on the level with a higher ceiling. There weren’t many spaces available, and they were all super narrow. Of course, cars were zooming around looking for spaces. I finally tried to get into one. It was a straight-in, narrow, short space. I sort of angled in, and my end stuck out. I realized that it was terrible parking. When I tried to straighten up, I inched even closer to the car next to me. I couldn’t leave it like that, as I had cut off the car next to me from backing up. I got out and flagged down a man walking down the row, assuming that he was a security guard. I asked him if he could help me get out of the space. When he got closer to me, I saw his name tag – he is a physician, not a security guard! I felt embarrassed, but he reassured me that he could help. He backed it out successfully, and instructed me to follow him so that I could use his bigger, wider, and longer space.

How kind!

George got his leg fixed up and the doctor prescribed a different medicine that won’t need periodic blood tests. So, we won’t have to go through this hospital ER visit experience again.

We had a quiet evening. We are enjoying public TV – there are more than 10 PBS stations here!

DINNER: Curried chicken lentil soup

The Reids are on the Road again!

LOCATION: Burlington, Vermont

CAMPGROUND: North Beach Municipal Park. Very accommodating…had a handicapped spot on hold for us. Super crowded due to a concert in town. Electricity and water on site. The handicapped site is the only paved one. Dated bathrooms. Free wifi, but it doesn’t work. $40/night. 3 stars out of 5.

WEATHER: Unseasonably warm. High 88

We are back on the road. YAY! George was released on Friday from the hospital in Quebec City, after 26 days in a hospital. He was more than ready to get out. They kept him longer than normal to make sure he was well enough to be in a car. They emphasized that we needed to get to a US hospital ASAP for blood tests and dressing changes. (If you haven’t read previous blogs, he had open heart surgery following a heart attack while camping in the Gaspe’ Peninsula).

He received care at the urgent care facility, then the community hospital, and finally the heart specialty hospital in Quebec City. The language barrier was interesting. Since he was there so long, we got to know a lot of the nurses.. These are some recollections I wrote while there….

Body functions continue to be a source of humor. (Yes, Mike, he did do #2!). Now with new RNs on a new floor, we are using the words pee pee and poo poo. Today the nurse brought it some brown liquid in a cup, that looked quite suspicious. She didn’t know how to explain the liquid, so she said it was “caca” (the universal word for do-do). Again, we did our little 20 Questions game, throwing out the words “laxative”, “stool softener”, etc. trying to guess what the liquid was. Finally, he tasted it and discovered it was prune juice. Again, so cute.

An aide just came in (one of those guys with a shaved head and a man-bun) asking about “toilet”. I nodded “pee pee” and shook my head no for “poo poo” He repeated, “pee pee oui”, “poo poo, ca-ca no”. It sounded like a singsong; we all giggled.

Our surgeon is considered to be one of the best in all of Canada. He is the Chief of Surgery.

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Upon release, we drove back to pick up the Airstream. Waiting for us was our wonderful camping friend, Chantal, whom we previously called our “911 lady”. She rounded up the paramedic who had originally driven us to the local urgent care (right beside the campground), and the campground owner. They hooked us up quickly and we said fond farewells. The campground owner would not accept any money for the 26 days when the Airstream was parked in the campground. We teared up..

We drove about 8 hours, stopping frequently for George to rest. He cannot drive for 2 months, so I’m the new driver!

We pulled into a Walmart and camped in their parking lot, along with a lot of other RVs.

The next morning, we got an early start and drove another 8 hours, this time by busy Quebec City, and almost through super busy Montreal. I was very stressed driving in the traffic pulling the Airstream.

We’ll stay here a few days to rest and to see what medical follow-up is needed. Thanks to everyone for kind messages and thoughts.

George’s surgery was a success!

LOCATION: Quebec Heart and Lung Institute, Quebec City, Quebec

WEATHER: Beautiful. High mid 70s

After waiting for 2 weeks in three different hospitals, we finally got the good news Monday PM that the surgery was finally scheduled for yesterday (Tuesday). George’s surgeon came in on Monday (obviously coming in on his Labor Day holiday) wearing flip flops, polo shirt and shorts. He seems very competent, though. All staff here are much more laid back, dress code-wise than we are used to (especially having worked at Mayo Clinic). Then, later the anesthesiologist came in and we learned that he trained at Mayo. Our confidence level kept increasing! This hospital does about 10 of these surgeries daily, so they are almost routine.

The staff here have been great. Most don’t speak much English, so we have had some comical moments. Yesterday, the RN came in and asked something. We thought she was confirming his name again to administer the meds, so we shouted out “George Reid” (as if we were playing a game). That wasn’t it. She asked again, and we yelled out his birthdate, also a common question to make sure they have the right patient. Again, the nurse nodded no. Finally, in broken English, and quite embarrassed, she timidly asked “Did you go number 2 today?” That was what she had been asking all along. So cute!

While George has been in this hospital in Quebec City these last 7 days, I’ve been staying in a hostel connected to the hospital. What a nice convenience! My room is tiny, but clean. There is a commons room with a refrigerator and microwave, so I can prepare some meals. I’ve met a few people there who can speak a little English. They are all so intrigued about how we landed here.

The hospital doesn’t have wifi or TV, so it has been super boring for George. He plowed through two books quickly. Out of boredom yesterday, I brought in the book “1000 Places to Go in the USA and Canada Before You Die” and we counted the number of places we have been to. He decided we have a lot more to see before he dies, so the surgery’s outcome would have to be good.

He hasn’t been in any pain. He is in ICU today, then will be moved to a surgical floor for 4-5 days. I visited him this morning and he is awake. He has even stood up a few times. Upon discharge, we will return to pick up the Airstream in Gaspe’ Peninsula, then slowly come back to this part of Quebec, then meander slowly south. We will probably have short driving days. I do OK driving the Airstream, as long as we are going forward. George will still have to do the backing up! I will also now be in charge of hooking up and unhooking the Airstream from the pick-up. He will be the “supervisor” and I will be the “worker bee”.