Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Return to. . . Palmdale and the Antelope Valley

We returned to the Antelope Valley after 32 hours of waiting for flights, and taking 'em.  Delta Air Lines can certainly get you where you wanna go, but the flexibility required for the late flight scenario, combined with the extra lost sleep upfront, made for two very tired puppies when we finally crashed on our long awaited pillows.  If we had to do it over again, we would have gotten a room in ATL before continuing on with our Stateside travels.

Waking up at the very motel we had last used here locally, we could see that the resident guest yahoos were as boorish as ever.  They even tried to bully me as a group in a staredown of sorts in the (free) breakfast room there.  I am not afraid to call wrong behavior what it truly is, and stood my ground to these thugs.  Ugh.  What a way to start the day. 

I immediately traveled to the local Social Security office in Lancaster our first full day back in the area, as I received earlier a Request for Information letter that needed to be sent ASAP.  Social Security can send one of these letters at any time, and at least I didn't have to pay extra for courier service back to the States this go round.  I was early in the outside line, too, which helped me get in and out of the office and deal with the desert heat better than if I had waited later in the day.  I was glad I had stopped off and got a diet iced soda to drink - I drank the whole thing standing outside in the head of the line while waiting around 90 minutes.

My Spanish was up to snuff, too.  A few parties at the head of the line were speaking it, and I joined in as appropriate to provide information on office hours, etc.  One veteran I was speaking with seemed to take offense that his English speaking buddy was suddenly bilingual en Espan~ol, but he reconciled himself later to the fact I wasn't the bad guy in line here. 

After attending my high school reunion, we returned again to the Antelope Valley and were warmly welcomed by our fellow Grace Chapel fellow believers in Christ David and Jodie Fuller.  They now live in a 2 bedroom apartment in a very nice complex in Lancaster, not far from Grace Chapel and weekly shopping and such.  We are grateful for their opening up their home to us as a place to live while we are here visiting.  I know Carolyn Anne appreciates visiting with the diminutive pooch Molly, who is adorable and so well behaved.  Cupid is doing well back in Cuenca, advises our friend Chio via email.

Everyone I see who remembers me remarks on how much weight I have lost.  Forty pounds, for the record since arriving in Cuenca.  They see that "The Cuenca Diet" of higher altitude, less food intake, healthier and organic food, and more walking daily has a cumulative good effect. 

That brings me to a comment or two on food.  At first I was looking forward to eating my first (fill in the blank) since returning Stateside, but the more experiences I have with restaurant and fast food, the less I am enthralled with the cuisine in general.  We've been to Arby's (good but darn expensive @$9 a combo meal), Panda Express (wife), and Subway (higher Stateside pricing than before) and have generally enjoyed these offerings.  I went to (Der) Weinerschnitzel for a chili dog and I was disappointed in the now obvious to my Cuencan taste bud sensitivities sugar content of their otherwise one of a kind chili con carne (light on the carne, sad to say).  It simply tastes too sweet to me now.  I went to Costco's Food Court for my old standby of a hot dog with soda and found Costco, at least, doesn't go the cheap sugar thrill way.  An honest, original bun length dog spiced nicely and topped just the way you like it (they need to get their second condiment stand to fully function, however. . . only one working spigot for ketchup).

You can now swipe your ATM/Debit card at Costco at the Food Court!  No more having to have a supply of cash for a bite to eat.  Good decision on their part.  Sam's Club has been like that for years. 

We have been so used to the "free air conditioning" of the Andes Sierra mountain climate found in places like Quito and Cuenca that we probably developed congestive head colds on our first full days back here in the Antelope Valley post high school reunion.  In my wife's case, it developed into pneumonia - not good.  We have seen our respective doctors, and have gotten the necessary antibiotics (and in Carolyn Anne's case, shot) to get us back to health.  The temperature extremes of going outside in the heat in the day after being inside in the air conditioning probably added to us getting sick. 

A good thing: Carolyn Anne was still in the LA County Health System records.  We're still US Citizens, and though we no longer live in the USA, we need to take advantage and access the medical care system here when necessary on a visit.  My Medicare works just fine as before.  Soon enough, Carolyn Anne will also have her Medicare card and not have to go through the County system anymore.  We could go to the same Urgent Care locally and even see the same doctor!  That would be good progress for the future.  We sure didn't plan on being sick for days while here.  Still have more visiting and shopping to do before we return home for Cuenca.  More on getting home in the next post. 

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