Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Not So Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to Work!

Joan and I have had an interesting couple of weeks since our last post. It all started on our trip back to Lake Mead from Yuma. After stopping to have lunch with friends we contacted Chuck and Claudia, team leaders for an engineering firm that contracts to BLM (Bureau of Land Management). We wanted to find out more about the summer job their company had contacted us about. We seemed to hit it off right from the start as we discussed the similarities between our RV's and lifestyles. The job being offered would have us working in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and possibly Utah & eastern Oregon this summer.
We would work 40 hours/week, drive our personal 4-wheel drive vehicle, utilize a provided tablet and GPS device to map BLM roads throughout the designated areas. Joan and I would be one team in a group of multiple teams that traveled and worked together for the season. The entire group would move to an area and set up in the same campground. Then each individual team would be assigned their own BLM roads to cover. Once an area was completed, the entire group would relocate to the next area to be mapped. The company picks up our campground fees, fuel costs for relocations, fuel costs for personal vehicle use, per diem for each day your personal vehicle is used and a generous hourly pay rate for both Joan & I. We would be in an area for a few weeks before moving on to another.

We were stunned. It sounded like a dream job for us. Let me think about this for a minute......we would drive our jeep off-road every day; through back country roads and lands that very few individuals get to see; stay in each area just long enough to do some exploring before moving; visit 3,4 or 5 beautiful states over the course of 5-6 months; and be generously compensated (see paid) for our efforts. What was it Ol' Brer rabbit said....."Please don't throw me in that brier patch". So we accepted the job and should start sometime in April. Wish us luck.

Keep it closed Mister! No
Free Shots!
Last Wednesday we started our volunteer workday by driving about 40 miles south of Boulder City to Cottonwood North on the western shore of Lake Mojave. Just before we left the pavement to drive our back country roads for the day we spotted some vehicle tracks off the side of the road that needed documenting and restoration. Joan began her GPS of the track while I starting raking. As soon as I started to exert myself I felt a tightness in my chest and headache. When I stopped raking, the discomfort went away. When I started raking again, the pain came back. As much as I didn't want to admit it, I had a problem. I'd felt this discomfort once or twice before, but thought it might be related to congestion from a recent cold. I didn't want to drive another 10-20 miles out into the desert only to have something more severe happen. We packed up and drove back to Boulder City. I went to the emergency room and was admitted. Between blood enzyme tests and a nuclear stress test on Thursday, the doctors determined that while I did not have a heart attack Wednesday morning, that I had had one sometime in the past and now appeared to have some sort of blockage. An angiogram would be needed. I was transferred that night to Desert Springs Hospital and Friday morning went for the angiogram. They found a 95% blockage in the right coronary artery and placed a stent.
Joan at work.
Maybe this heavy lifting
restriction should be
extended a little longer? 

I was released Saturday with a restriction from lifting anything over 10 pounds for the next few days. The doctors explained that once the stent was placed no other issues were identified and that my heart was 'fixed'. Their primary concern after the procedure is the incision sight into the femoral artery next to your groin. Should that sight leak, bleed or clog, it can have serious consequences. But all is well at this point. I started back to work Monday and plan on playing in a tournament next weekend right after my follow up with the cardiologist. No Problemo! Yahoo!

On our drive back from Florida this year, Joan and I discussed whether we wanted to continue and drive cross country each year or just fly home for visits. We decided that flying might make more sense. That being said, our decision 2 years ago to drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee for comfort rather than a Jeep Wrangler for adventure was no longer a primary factor. And with this new job requiring a lot more off-roading in back country areas, a Wrangler might make more sense. So we started shopping. We have really loved our Grand Cherokee and feel as though we've certainly gotten our money's worth. In the last 2 years we've driven 67K miles; got a crease in the passenger door where the wind whipped it open and it hit the front fender leaving a dent; several dents in the hood from hail in South Dakota; 2 small chips in the windshield; and an AC fan starting to make noise.
Wednesday we decided to trade for a used Jeep Rubicon. The stars must have been aligned because on the way to the dealership to make the trade, a semi truck on the interstate threw up a small rock and bingo....windshield chip #3. Then 10 miles from the dealer, the low fuel warning light came on the dash. I think we managed to milk all the 'goody' out of that one. We're excited about the new vehicle and all the new places and adventures we'll be experiencing with it.

You know you just never know what you might find as you explore the area in and around Lake Mead. We stopped Tuesday to repair a sign that lost a bolt and was hanging crookedly from its post. As Joan looked around the base of the post for the missing nut & bolt she noticed something quite unusual. A roach and a die. No not your scurry around the floor in the dark roach. And not a 'you've had a heart attack' die. But a die roach clip with a roach still in it! Probably explains what happened to the sign.

We joined a group of volunteers last week and took a tour of Hoover Dam. It's really amazing to think about the engineering and abilities of the folks who designed and built this in the early 1930's. Here's a pic of the turbine room. If you look at the top of the pic you'll see an American flag hanging from a 300 ton lift. At the bottom right, the insides of the actual turbine, the rotor which weighs in at 400 tons. They have to use 2 of the 300 ton lifts to remove and replace the rotor. WOW!

Joan, Charlie & Steve

During the tour one of the Dam Tour Guides approached us and started to chat. "Where ya' from?" "What part of Florida?" "Of course I've heard of Ocoee and Winter Garden. I graduated high school there. My brother is the barber in Ocoee!" Charlie was our tour guides name and his brother Larry still cuts Joan's dad's hair. What a small world!

You learn something
new everyday

Now many of you may not know it, but I don't like to show pictures of food on the blog. Just my little pet peeve. So this pic is in the category of agriculture and plants. Joan stopped in the Dollar Store the other day and they had brussel sprouts still on the stalk. Never saw that before so I thought I'd share with you what it looks like. She cooked it up and said it was really yummy!

David and Paul

Shout outs to many of the Ritten clan. February seems to the birthday month for several of them: Happy birthday to brothers Paul, David and Michael; nephews Colby & Cody; and belated January birthday to Joan's son Sean. Happy Happy!

And a big happy birthday to Joan next week 2/11.

Well that's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come!


  1. I am so happy to hear that you "got fixed" and are doing well. Darned if these health problems keep disturbing the life we want to have. BUT... thank goodness many are fixable. Glad you made the decision to head to the ER. Keep well.... and wow... does that new job sound like fun!

  2. Wishing you a quick recovery! Congrats…that does sound like a dream job! I look forward to reading about it.

  3. Glad to hear your doing well. Would like to hear more about your job.

  4. That does to qualify as a food picture! Sorry about dropping my "die-roach" there but I was about to get pulled over and needed to drop it quick. Perhaps you can return it next time we see you. Glad you are better and love the Jeep!

  5. Wow! We are at a lose for words with all the information in this blog post! As we were reading about your new job, we had trouble picturing you out there with that nice white luxury Jeep. Ahhh, third paragraph explains the new Jeep!!! Super color!! Boy, you are so lucky, Steve, that you caught your blockage when you did. Glad you made the wise decision to do something about it. Nice ER in Boulder City isn't it!!! Now we both have first hand experiences in their new ER:) So nice to hear that all went well with the procedure:) Take care of yourselves!

  6. You two have a charmed life. Jobs just seem to fall into your laps.Way to go! What a perfect job. I'm sure you'll be posting all about it.

    Glad you got checked out for the tightness in your chest. Whew! Dodged a bullet there, Steve.

    Good to hear all you've been doing.

  7. P.S. Happy birthday, Joan. (I'd rather say it early than late!)

  8. We are glad everything is going well for you both! We will be out in West Yellowstone, so call us if you are nearby this summer. Sounds like the perfect job for you, and love the new jeep. Much easier windows to brush snow off of! Joan hope you had a wonderful birthday. Steve - good luck on your follow-up at the doctor's office. And thanks for closing that gown!

  9. Oh my -- glad you recognized that your medical issue was serious. Hope all is well now.

    Happy belated birthday to Joan!

    Loved hearing about your small world experience. We've had some of those on the road as well. Very cool!

    Look forward to hearing about your next job. That really is a dream job!