Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Clean Mountain Air

So the hotel (which I will describe more fully in days to come when I feel less bitter) was not full of clean mountain air. It was mildewy, masked with air freshener spray. The beds were uncomfortable, the room cramped. I hardly slept, because I was coughing more and more, and it was getting even harder to breathe.

Nevertheless, with the optimism of any eager traveler, I thought I would snap out of it and be fine any minute, and we continued on our itinerary to Sedona, land of artistes and red rock. Amazingly, on the beautiful two-lane winding road, when we dropped to 6000 feet, I gasped and drew air deeply into my lungs! Crap! It wasn't just the chemicals, I had altitude sickness as well!

How that happens is beyond me, unless it was just because my respiratory tract was compromised. I've been to the Grand Canyon area before and never had trouble. But oh, blessed road down the mountain! Suddenly the world seemed a lot better than it had.

Like a wonder of the ancient world, along the side of the road there appeared a nice little parking area beside the likes of which I have not seen since I was young and the mountains of Pennsylvania were cleaner: a spring, with water pouring in twin streams, drinking water fresh from the earth. I tasted it, and it was delicious. We filled up all our emptied water bottles avidly, trading comments about how good it was, and how amazing it was, with locals and tourists alike, for the spring had an unending stream of patrons.

For that alone I would have made the trip to Sedona, and I would love to visit Sedona again in the future. We drove, and walked, and snapped photos and soaked in the splendor.

After dinner at The Barking Frog, (an eclectic little restaurant with good service and tasty food), we returned to the top of the plateau at 7300 ft.

Again I coughed through much of the night. I can tough this out, I thought. It was Wednesday, and I only had to make it through Thursday night.

In the morning, we headed for the Grand Canyon. I had in mind walking the rim trail from the Visitor Center to Bright Angel Point, about 4.4 miles round trip. Easy.


Even though we took it slow, the exercise was wearing on me. I couldn't get more than about 50 - 75 feet before I had to sit and catch my breath. We got some good photos, and saw some incredibly beautiful vistas, but by afternoon, the only thing I cared about was my next breath.

I began getting a typical altitude-sickness headache, and was losing my sense of direction; crossing the parking lot to the car was an ordeal. I can make it one more day. Feeling the tightness as I breathed in ... No, I can't.

Hurrah for Expedia! When we hit our hotel room, I fired up my laptop and was able to book a room at a Holiday Inn Express in Kingman, Arizona. We loaded up and headed west. By 5000 feet, I could draw a breath again, and by 5pm, we were in our room, happy as birthday-party children about how CLEAN and luxurious the room was.

There are lots of photos, and lots of things to say, but they will have to wait. We made it there, we made it out. We took our grand-daughter to see things she had never seen before.

Maybe next road trip, we'll just stay along the coast.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Deep Blue Sky

I'll be just fine as soon as I get into that fresh mountain air, I thought to myself as I choked and coughed and gasped, trying to ease the burning pressure in my lungs.

My evening football game beside the open balcony windows had been a lot of fun for me; the game was entertaining, the accommodations luxurious. But when it was time for bed, the air outside was too cold to leave things open, so the door was closed and we settled in for the night.

In the morning, I woke with a slight cough. Air conditioning can do that, so I didn't worry about it. Bernie and Lil invited me to revisit their sight-seeing of the night before, and a stretch of legs seemed like a good idea, so I accompanied them down into the MGM Grand Casino and Shops complex.

Fifteen minutes into it, I knew I was in trouble. Unlike what I expected, I could smell no cigarettes, even though every table and nook had ashtrays. What I did feel, with a rising sense of horror, was my throat and sinuses constricting, and a growing pain in my chest. Yeah, the air in the casino complex didn't smell of tobacco ... but that was because it was chemically treated, and those chemicals were shutting down my breath.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is real, and it is no joke. After this vacation experience, I feel fairly certain that I've found the condition that is going to end my life sooner or later. Coming out of the casino area finally, I couldn't get enough air to stop the pressure building.

Who knew? The last time I was in a casino of any kind was probably 30 years ago. It was smoky and noisy and nasty back then -- back then, they didn't know how to add chemicals to the air filtration to mask the smell of smoke. Oh, the fortunate days of back then.

So we headed off to the mountains, me coughing intermittently and tasting a chemical wash in my mouth.

We got to Williams, Arizona, and our accommodation for the next three days and nights: Mountain Ranch Resort, with a surprising and charming view of that snow-capped mountain.

Nice, right?

Do stay tuned.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Sleep-over in Las Vegas

The house we lived in on Cooper Drive back in 1997 had three petite bedrooms, two tiny baths, a galley kitchen, and a living room. It was only about 200 square feet bigger than this hotel room. The "living room" certainly isn't smaller than the place on Cooper, and the kitchen area isn't a whole lot smaller than the house on Cooper. The bedroom in this "suite" is bigger than the master bedroom on Cooper, and the bathroom off the bedroom is bigger than Alex's bedroom was back then. Oh, and Lil has a separate bathroom all to herself.

There's a sliding door off the living room in this suite that looks out over Las Vegas Airport and the mountains, giving me a perfect view of the rain and storms coming through the area. On the 8th floor, I have no fear of mosquitoes or intruders, so the door is open to the cool evening air.

The main bath has a jacuzzi tub. While Lil and Bernie took to the streets of Las Vegas to sight-see, I opted to spend nearly an hour soaking in the tub, all the aches of travel leaving my body before turning on Monday Night Football. And while the Seahawks battle the Lions, my greatest vacation holiday wishes have come true: a thunderstorm is rolling in!

This is what I call entertainment.