Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Road Trip

Tim is home! Yup. Back from Kirkuk, Iraq. We must have sent a thousand e-mails to each other.

When I arrived in Houston on Sunday the 24th of April, with my best friend, Stew, we went to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to see Bud. At that point, he was pretty healthy. He had the transplant the Tuesday before. By Thursday, he was pretty sick. The doctors told him and my sister that it was just a reaction to the chemo he had to prep him for the transplant. His white cell count was only .2% at that time. We left that weekend. On the way home, Maggie called me and said his cell count was on the rise, which meant the new bone marrow was starting to do its thing already. By the time I got home, it had gone up to 2.9% and that was good news. He is very tired and weak, but, so far things are looking up for them. It better continue that way. He's not even close to being anywhere near the edge of the forest yet. The doctors did allow him to go home to their apartment for the weekend, so that must have lifted his spirits. One interesting thing. The doctors say that any type of fungus is deadly to him. Kill him outright. I would imagine that would include mold and mildew. Don't know why, but I'll try to find out.

On the way there, we stopped in Rayne, Louisiana for the night. Did you know that Rayne is the frog capital of the world? I didn't think so. Stewart spoke with his wife the next morning. She's pretty gullible. He told her that when we got to the hotel, they only had a room with one bed, but, don't worry, one of us slept above the covers and one below the covers. But we had to share a pillow. I think she believed him. We went through the gambling district in Biloxi, hugging the coast. Pretty interesting. Jefferson Davis had a home there, which is now a museum. A lot of shade trees with spanish moss. Then we went on through Bay St. Louis, which is a very nice little community. From there we went into the French Quarter in New Orleans and took some pictures. As soon as he e-mails them to me, I will post some at my Flickr site. We went to one of the above ground cemeteries with all the mausoleums. St. Louis #1. Very interesting. The rest of the drive was rather boring to look at. Lake Charles to the west is nothing but a giant chemical town. Next door is the town of Sulphur. I looked for Birthdefect on the map. I thought it would be nearby.

Houston itself is pretty big. There is one good sized downtown and clusters of others. The medical district alone is just about the size of downtown Orlando. Bud's hospital is big. Four floors are for leukemia only. The staff is dedicated to that disease and the care is impeccable. He says the food's pretty good, too.

Stewart wanted to go to Galveston. Maggie said it's nothing to see. Don't waste your time. I said, hey, you drove all the way out here and you want to go to Galveston. Let's go. So we did. The three of us. We all actually enjoyed it. It's a nice place. We went on an oil rig museum. We walked through the gaslight area called The Strand with shops and restaurants and second floor iron railings, like in New Orleans. A nice place to escape the city. That night, back in Houston, my sister took us to a restaurant/bar for happy hour called Benjy's. Certainly a good place to eat and drink. Everyone we met in Houston was very nice, but I wouldn't want to live there.

When we left for home, we spent the night in Tallahassee. Little did we know that FSU graduation was going on and virtually every room was filled. We did find the last one at a La Quinta at exit 99. Nice little area. The next morning, back on the road, Stew talked to his wife An, and told her that we did have two beds this time. Good, she said. Then he told her that the air conditioner was stuck on the lowest setting and wouldn't go off. We had to sleep in the same bed to stay warm, but we did have separate pillows. "I'm leaving you!" she screamed. Pretty funny, but she should know better. I don't lean that way.

One thing we really did notice. EVERY exit on I-10 had a Waffle House.

Every exit.

Well, except for the bayou.

And we only saw one cowboy in Texas. Horns on his Ford truck.

It's fun to travel.

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