I can’t help myself

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

I had decided that I was not going to write to this blog anymore after the book comes out but since it is going to take a lot longer than I had hoped I changed my mind.  I kept you up to date on the book process and over that time period I gave you some chapters for you to review.  

This blog entry will be written about what we have been up to since the book ended with Catherine getting her 50th state done in Rhode Island.  She always wanted her last state to be Maine but with Covid you have to be flexible and go with the flow.  Timing wise and finding races that were still being held it was decided to do Rhode Island last.

It was a great race and it was another one of those that I kept a consistently slow pace the entire race and as an added bonus no knee pain.  My sister Gwen was at the Cape and cut her trip short to come over to Narragansett to watch.  Her Airbnb was about 1/4 mile from the mile 3 marker so she bundled up to make the early morning walk to wish us well.  She was there for my first marathon in New York and she was also there for my Boston Marathon so it was very special that she made time for this marathon.

Two friends that we have done several trips with Marathon Tours in the past drove over from Boston to meet us at the finish. Lisa and Rick from another Marathon Tours trip showed up for the race with Lisa running her 260th something Marathon and Rick driving along the course to help out during the race. I do not think I have every met someone that was able to talk the entire 26.2 miles.


                                                                  Our 55th hand in hand marathon finish

I have to admit that completing a marathon in all 50 states is quite a feat.  It is something I thought about doing myself but since I still have 8 states left to complete I decided to let Catherine have that achievement to herself.  That will now mean that she has 15 more marathons than me.  Her fastest marathon time is 8 minutes faster than mine and she actually qualified for the Boston Marathon.  You will have to read my book, Running all over the world, our race against early onset Alzheimer’s to find out how I was able to do so.  I am still shooting for a May 1 release date.

                Our favorite place to run while in Atlanta  

To celebrate this accomplishment we went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for two weeks and started the planning process for us to get a half marathon in all 50 states.  We have done 23 of them already.  After that we were off to Aruba where their infection rate is very low but are still allowing tourist on their small island.  I must say they do it right.  It is quite obvious that during the down time they came up with a great plan of action to protect their citizens and all tourist that come for fun in the sun.

I will give a few examples.  You can either get tested within 72 hours prior to arrival or get tested for Covid upon arrival at the airport.  We chose to get tested upon arrival since we did not have enough time between Mexico and Aruba to get tested and get our results back within the time period required.  With that said I was concerned that we would end up spending hours waiting to get tested.  That was further from the truth.  

The process was very streamlined and we were out the airport door and in the cab 30 minutes after arrival.  You were required to download their health application which helped greatly with the process.  It took exactly 6 hours after we arrived for our negative results to be posted.  We did quarantine in our room during that period of time so basically when we woke up the next morning we were now free to roam the island.

You also had to buy health insurance for 30 bucks and that covers if you get sick while there with specific instructions and what to do at the first sign of illness.  In turn after answering questions on their site and buying the insurance plus the Covid test you then get a large green check mark which means you are allowed on the plane and also once again out the door at the airport and lastly in the hotel.

We stayed at the Marriott Surf Club resort and they too had their act together.  Signage and arrows everywhere letting you know exactly what to do while on the property and I could see they take this virus very seriously.  They opened back up in July and kept most staff on the payroll so they could make the modifications needed to open back up safely.

One day we made our way to the Super Foods grocery store and their too they took the virus extremely seriously and required everyone entering to have a cart.  The thought there was to limit the number of people in the store to actual shoppers.  The also had monitors to make sure everyone followed flow patterns in the store, including wearing masks while there.  I really liked that grocery store for one very important reason. Since I no longer drink alcohol but love the taste of a cold beer they had at least a dozen varieties of NA beer.  What made it so special is that they were sold as singles which meant I could get a great sampling of what they had to offer.

I was wondering why most grocery stores on the island were owned by Chinese and with the help of the web I learned that The first Chinese family came to Aruba when the Lago oil refinery opened in the late 20’s.  Most of them came from Trinidad and Tobago at that time and started with grocery stores.  During the tourism development in the 80’s brought new Chinese to the island and most of them are involved in Supermarkets, Chinese restaurants and for the past couple of years even in hardware.  However the Chinese are not the biggest group of immigrants on Aruba, that being Columbians.  

The two official languages are the Dutch language and the predominant, national language Papiamento, which is classified as a creole language. This creole language is formed primarily from 16th century Portuguese, and several other languages. Spanish and English are also spoken. Islanders can often speak four or more languages.

Most of the restaurants had outdoor dining options.  Temperature checks were taken prior to seating and you had to give them information of where you are staying including room number for contact tracing.   I must admit as Catherine and I have traveled the USA during this unprecedented times it was nice to see constant messaging on how to control the virus.

We rented a car for several days and noticed that the only stop light on the island was being replaced with another of the hundreds of roundabouts.  It sure does keep traffic flowing but you really have to be on your toes while driving here.  We made our way to the other, very rocky side of the island and visited Airlock Natural Park.  I was drawn to the windmill farm.  We were able to walk right up to the 10 windmills which was a first for me.

                                  My best off the top of my head selfie

During our travels so far we have spent Thanksgiving in various different ways and places.  The traditional family get together at Catherine’s mom, Barb’s house with 20 of us crowded around the dinner tables.  One year we went to Boston Market for takeout and ate the scrumptious meal back in the Motor Home, while we were in Florida.  This year we went up to the California Lighthouse, named after the ship that came aground in the area.  The Italian restaurant, Faro Blanco had great food offerings but a lack luster sunset.  I hate when clouds come out of nowhere right as the sun says goodbye for the day.

                       One tall dude

It was not so easy getting off the island.  Maybe because we really did not want to go.  On one of the local channels it talked about being at the airport 3 hours prior.  I have been doing two hours recently but decided I did not want to be one of those people they mentioned that get left.  But at the same time we had to take one more walk along the snow white sand of Baby Beach so I split the difference and got to the airport two hours and 30ish minutes prior to departure.

                        Baby Beach Baby

You clear US customs in Aruba and the last time I had that happen in Canada we had to run to the gate to make the flight.  After immigration the line for security was unbelievable.  Turns out they are shoes, belts, hats, computer and gels out of your bags type people.  No TSA pre-check or Clear there.  Every time we were getting close to the one X-ray machine, they had four available, they would call passengers for one of the flights that was about to leave and a dozen folks jumped ahead of everyone.  I carry a bunch of supplements in my carry on and they went thru each baggie with a fine tooth comb.  The security team kept asking each other if it was okay to have so many. This happened once in Puerto Rico with the agricultural folks and after 15 minutes they let me go thru.  

Here it was security so they kept checking them for a bomb substance.  Next up you had to claim your checked bags and carry them thru US customs.  We have global entry so we went to the kiosk to do our thing.  I helped Catherine first and then myself.  By then the customs agent from a far made a comment that something must be wrong and I replied that it is working fine and she replied, “it must not since it has been taking you 10 minutes.”  I am very good at this and at most it took 30 seconds a piece.  I got my slip and walked up to her when she said.  “You realize that global entry is a privilege not a right.”  I replied, “yes ma’am.”  She then told me that when she tells me something to do I am to do it right away without the back talk of it is working fine.  She went on with, “We are using new face recognition and with the mask and hat it probably was not working.”  However it worked fine and handed her our slips.  She reminded me that I should pay her more respect next time and I said I was sorry.  She asked if I had any of the prohibited items she rattled off one by one and I answered no to each.  She then told me to go thru the lane where I proceeded to drag our bags to a belt to drop them off. 

I saw others getting the full bag search so I was glad i kept my mouth shut and the lady did not send us that way.  Now on to US security so once again everything off and out.  Catherine is pretty good at airports but needs constant direction so by then I was a bit frazzled to say the least.  By the time we made it to the gate after Catherine went to the bathroom they were boarding our flight and we taxied out 15 minutes early.

I have been thru a lot of airports but this was totally screwed up. They call this place the happy island.  Not so much outbound.  It would pay dividends if they had all four security lanes open so we could have spent some more money on the island at some of the shops and restaurant’s in the gate area.

After two weeks there we were back to Atlanta for a few days with a 4 month follow up appointment with the Mind Center for Catherine.  Speaking of which she is doing well.  I have referred to her illness as a sine wave.  Some days are better than others but unfortunately overall she is still on a slight decline.  Back in June it got really bad with delusions daily and from time to time she was not very sure who I was.

As I always do I keep myself up to date on any and all supplements that might help her or any Clinical trial that also might help.  I ran across a web site that was pushing some supplements that advertise being highly effective for folks with Alzheimer’s.  It was a 60 minute presentation offering a number of different supplements.  The one that caught my eye was Mind Restore.  It had a combination of supplements that I have tried in the past but not in combination.  You take it at night and it aids sleep which I have talked about previously and nourishes the brain while you sleep

With any new drug or supplement I phased it into her routine with me also taking it for any side effects.  3 times a week half the dosage for the first week.  4 days a week the second week then 7 days a week still at half the dosage then back to three days at the recommended dosage and so on.  Just like you flipped a switch after a month her delusions were gone.  She stopped doing repetitive actions, no sundowning and started to tell me she loved me on a regular basis.

Right after that we had a previous Mind Center appointment and I told them about her improvement and showed them what was in the supplement.  Our nurse practitioner recognize the components but like me had not heard of a supplement with all the components in one supplement.  They also have a supplement called Awaken Gold which I just started giving her with the same administration protocol.  I hope it also shows some improvements.

After Atlanta in an effort to find someplace warmish to hide out from Covid we went to Myrtle Beach SC for three weeks which took us to right after Christmas then on to our first half marathon for 2021 outside of Houston.  While in Myrtle Beach we got in some great runs or walks along the beach since the weather was mostly in the high 50’s to mid 60’s.

We stayed once again at another Marriott Vacation Club villas called Ocean Watch at Grand Dunes.  It turns out they were practically giving away weeks there due to Covid and the off season.  They also took extra care with their Covid precautions.  Catherine and I decided to get tested for Covid once a month as suggested by a local TV commercial.  The nearby CVS had you swab your own noses at the drive thru lane and were once again able to get our negative results 3 days later.  I must admit it was a bit unnerving to stick a swab that far up your nose for 15 seconds per nostril.

We got a lot of miles in while in South Carolina and the mid 50 temps made it very enjoyable.  I love to do something I had never done before.  Since I am slowing down over the years you have to find those first time events when it comes to running when you can.  The beach here is not as slanted as you will find elsewhere so we went for a 6 mile out and back run along the beach, previous longest distance was 4 miles.  Since it was later in the day the sand was well packed and it overall felt great and the crashing waves made it an outstanding experience.

In the, it sounded like a good idea at the time column, we ran the 9.5 miles from our Villa to the airport to pick up a car for a few days.  All was going well as we ran along Ocean Blvd when a clump of concrete grabbed my foot and I took a spill around mile 8.  Of course I dusted myself off and continued with the run but must say I am still sore and healing up a scuffed up right knee, three days later.  All that does not kill you makes you stronger.

 We found a nearby track and we were able to do some quarter mile track repeats which is something I have not done in many years.  I was able to run each quarter mile a bit faster over the 4 miles.  That was a really good mental boast since I was still healing from my spill.

Off to Texas to start off our new goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states plus DC on Jan 1, 2021.  I think that will be a great way to start off the year.  This will take me back to a race we would often run back in Louisville Ky.  Each year we would do the New Years day 10 miler where many would dress up.

Catherine and I wish everyone a safe, healthy and prosperous 2021.  I know it will be a great year for my son, Shawn and my daughter in law Cassie since my Christmas present from them was the announcement of their second child next July.  All I need to do this time around is to make sure I do not plan on some grand adventure for the later part of July.

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