Monday, September 26, 2022

A Short Note From Alex In Ukraine

I would never have thought that I would be so much involved in the medical world.

It all started at the end of March when my friends, dr. Judah Slawkowkskiy , a surgeon from Chicago,  wanted to help his Ukrainian colleagues.

Dr. Judah brought not only his knowledge and skills, but he brought encouragement and hope. This was the time when the whole world realized the brutality of this war, when the crimes of Bucha and Irpin became open for the world media.

Since that dr. Judah came three more times to Ukraine to teach surgeons from Lviv, Ternopil and Kyiv to teach them blood stopping techniques and bullet/fragments removal from hard accessible areas.

Judah is very helpful and is my resource in all my medical questions.  He explained with napkins and pencils the difference between Force Triad generator and Harmonica and what cables I need to look for to make these devices fully functional.

When I met Judah a couple weeks ago, I made a comment about his beard. His answer strokes me. He said: “I’m leaving for Afghanistan, Alex, Just a few weeks I will be in Kabul. God is calling me to help people there” I was astonished and petrified. This is a country which is run by the Taliban, where Americans are not welcomed. Think for a moment!



He is coming with two Italian and one Dutch doctor as a part of a medical mission, where they will spend six months training Afghan doctors and receive patients. Please pray for dr. Judah and his mission!

My new challenge was to get another type of surgical generator, Harmonica. I was requested by my Ukrainian surgeons to help them with this. It was a challenge to find the device and get the money.

Thank God I got more money than I needed and I was able to get even more stuff for my friends in Ukraine.



I think helping to equip the hospitals is very crucial. It will impact many people's lives now and in future.

Another benefit is that I made such good relations with the medical community in Zhytomyr, that I was able to help a lonely widow from Zhytomyr.  Her name is Maria and she is a neighbor of my in-laws. She complained about heart problems often. She could not get any help from her physician. Unfortunately, medical service and attitude toward the elderly people leaves much to be desired.

I called dr.Vitalliy, who is a director assistant of the largest hospital in Zhitomir oblast and Maria was seen next day by the best cardiologist in the oblast!

Thank you all,

Alex 

Monday, September 5, 2022

The War In Ukraine Rages On

The last contact I've had from Alex in Ukraine was on August 8th as I mentioned in the last post. 

I waited another couple days and still nothing. 

So I took a chance and sent an email to Alex just to see if he's OK. 

Here's his answer:

Hello Mark,


I'm better than I deserve. I'm safe and I'm still in Poland. I'm trying to help to coordinate humanitarian help from here. We are in the process with my friends and colleagues from Polish Origins (www.polishorigins.com) to start a non-profit to continue our efforts to help the cause in Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine can last longer than most of us expected and what will be with Ukraine after the war will be a huge, huge challenge.

Thank you for your concerns. May God bless you and I wish you quick recovery!

Alex

Alex's family is in Poland and I would guess that's where he's at. I was glad to hear. Should I get more information I'll pass it along. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Saga Continues

What saga is that? What is slowly beating me into the ground. 

I got home last night after spending 4 days in the hospital trying to find out why my back is so sore I can barely get up off the couch. I mentioned in the past about the Osteoarthritis I have in the  L3/L4 region of my lower Lumbar in my back. I also mentioned that I had Gall Bladder surgery at the end of July. They are now calling my back Osteomyelitis (inflammation of bone or bone marrow, usually due to infection). 

I called the surgeon who did the surgery because of the pain and was told he absolutely refused any further pain medication and I should go to the ER and have them figure it out. That statement basically released me from his care. They have this 90 day rule of some kind that one doctor will not touch another doctors patient. 

So Friday afternoon I end up in the ER of our local hospital in mortal agony. The ER doctor sent me down for a CT Scan to have a closer look. Now, when I said my back hurt, they always ask the pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. When I got up off the CT Scan table (hard as a rock by the way) I estimated the pain level at about 22. It was that bad. 

Then they decided to do an MRI (same type of hard table). What they found was an infection in the L3/L4 region of my lower Lumbar. By the way, before I went to the MRI, they filled me with pain meds and it was still about a 15 on the scale. What they couldn't figure out was why, since I've been taking antibiotics for almost two months (from the first Gall bladder attempt), the infection was still there. The doctors said that between that and the Gall Bladder infection it's no wonder my back hurt so bad.    

A Radiologist reviewed the MRI and the next morning I was taking an ambulance ride to the main hospital in downtown Sacramento. The plan was to do a biopsy of the infection in the Lumbar and find out what the infection was. Now, if you've been in a hospital recently, you know that you see a bunch of doctors. In talking to the "group" the thought came up that the abscess in the Gall Bladder probably sent some ugly shit through the blood stream to the lower Lumbar area but still why was it there with all the antibiotics?

Surgery scheduled and down I went. The young lady who picked me up was named Oleana. I asked her nationality, Ukrainian. Hmmmm. Got to surgery check in and the girl there was named Dasha. Again Ukrainian. Had to be some kind of good omen and you all know my grandparents were born in Ukraine. 

Only thing is that they scheduled a Gall Bladder removal not the biopsy. The "group" decided first and foremost the Gall Bladder needed to go. Once again the Gall Bladder was in such a state that it couldn't be removed. Next try is in about 6 weeks. Putting a crimp on fishing and camping, but I need to be fixed. Guess the good omen didn't work so well. 

So, I'm back home as of last night (that hour ride in itself damn near killed me), but we have all kinds of medical people helping one being an infusion of a high powered antibiotic every day and even though I have to go to the hospital to have it done, it's only a couple blocks down the street. 

Guess I'll have to wait a while for some fishing. 

By the way, I haven't heard anything from Alex in Ukraine since the 8th of this month. I do hope he's OK.    

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Well, That's It

We come to the end (almost) of Summer 2022. This has been dismal Summer for us out here in Nor Cal. 

I did a post on June 12th of our trip to Upper Lake. Found a few things with the magnet and caught the first fish of the year. 

That trip and the one up Highway 4 was it for the year. We had reservations for Upper Lake the last week of this month, but had to cancel because of my son being worked to death (pretty normal for his job) and my being between 4 or possibly 5 surgeries. I've already had two and am working through infections until I can finally get the Gall Bladder out. 

When I changed the name of this blog to the "Wandering Gimp" I was walking with a cane because of the arthritis in my lower lumbar region of my back. 

I now use a walker and at times a wheelchair. I don't believe the back is getting worse, I think it's not being able to get around enough to keep the back muscles flexible as they should be.

Unfortunately until the Gall Bladder is gone and body healed, can't do very much because of all those little knots surrounded with gobs of tape and gauze that come with surgery. 

Until this happens, I sit and read posts, watch YouTube, play Solitaire, and do crossword puzzles. And of course the more I sit, the harder it is to stand. I do what I can to help my wife (and wingman) maintain the house, but compared to before, it's a pittance. 

I've gotten a couple emails from Alex in Ukraine, but since I didn't get much response about posting them, I'm just hanging on to them and if something is worth passing on, I will. 

Alright, I'm off to the garage to cut up cardboard boxes for the recycle truck on Thursday. 

Ya'll be safe out there. I'll post if anything exciting happens. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Another Sad Story From Ukraine

 Had to pass this one along. 

I’m in Poland right now. This time my trip was full of adventures. But the most important thing is that I'm here.

Before I left, the downtown of Vinnitsa city was hit with cruise missiles. It was in the daytime. The news for all of us was shocking. I was on this street many times. It’s not far from the General Consultant of the Polish Republic and Vinnitsa central archives.

One of the victims was a little girl with Down syndrome. She was coming back with her mom after a visit to a speech specialist, when a russian missile took her life. Yesterday’s post of one of my FB friends describes the best of what many of us feel.

RUSSIA KILLS!!!

The whole truth about this war in one single picture…

 



All I have is more answered questions.

How can we stop Putin? How can we forgive the death of an innocent child?! Is it the end of the world?

Maybe we all live in the last days...

Alex

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Several Updates Here And Ukraine

I know a lot of you have followed this blog since the war in Ukraine started and a lot of you have followed forever.  

Personally I'm coming back from a 4 day stay in the hospital. Got 5 Gall stones jammed in what they call the Bile Duct removed via a procedure called Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography. Go ahead and try to pronounce it. They took out the stones and put in a Stent (just like in your heart, but a plastic one). I was told it would dissolve in about 6 weeks. That was Ok since the Gall Bladder is coming out on the 29th. 

Yesterday at exactly 1:30 pst I got a call from the doctor's office downtown informing me the stent has to be manually removed. I had flames coming out my ears. Another misinformation. Now I have to have  a 3rd surgery on August 19th.      

Unfortunately based on many different explanations of what was to happen, at the end of the third day I said, that's it, I'm going home. Then all of a sudden they want take out my Gall Bladder. "Send me home, I have a guy locally I trust a lot more than you guys". 

The first surgery took about 3 weeks to "somewhat" recover. The next two are outpatient so maybe a quicker recovery. Upper Lake is coming the end of August. 

So now you know why I've been quiet lately. On the other hand, I'm getting a bit depressed with this whole Ukraine war. The Ukraine Military is doing an awesome job of keeping the Russians out of Ukraine for the most part. Alex is doing a heroic job getting supplies for the people and the military and the doctors. I posted a couple emails below that came while I was down. 

The US and European Allies are doing everything they can, short of getting involved directly but from what I've read Russia is just leveling town after town. seems they are trying to kill as many Ukrainians as possible at least those that are left. Just look at the first picture below.  

I don't know if you want me to keep passing along Alex's emails but if you do, let me know in the comment section. 

From Alex dated 7/7/2022

Dear friends,

 In my March 1 update I made a video of the destruction of the private houses not far from the hospital, where my elder daughter Evelyn was born. It was a terrible picture of destruction. At that time I wondered who those people who lost their houses were.


Today a mother with her son came to our office to get some help. Oksana and her five year old son lived in one of those houses. Oksana is a single mother and with the help of her parents she  purchased two rooms in one of those houses a couple months before the war.

She was with her parents in the village on that tragic day. It was definitely God’s grace.

Video:https://photos.app.goo.gl/Zc9fDnhi7fUYcprj8

When they came today to get some food packages, we gave Bogdan, her son a gift from the Netherland Foundation. His smile tells a lot.



This one from 7/2/2022

Dear friends,

Couple weeks ago I got a call from an unknown number. The young male voice told me that he is a good friend of Edik, who runs a restaurant and I got to know Edik when I had my little restaurant Green Line Café a couple yearы ago. He told me that he was senior leant of airborne brigade 95 and he needs help. I invited him to come to the office at the nonprofit, where I volunteer.

FYI 95 brigade is one of the elite troops of the Ukrainian army. They are located in Zhitomir and they were the first ones sent to Kharkov and North of Kyiv to meet Russians on the first days of the war.

When I met Mychaylo, that is the name of the senior lieutenant, he made a huge impression on me. He is under 30 but in his eyes I could see courage and nothing else. He spoke little with his calm voice. He told me that from February till the end of April he was a commander of a platoon in a 13 Battalion of the 95 brigade. On February 24 this battalion had around 500 soldiers and only 200 left home for rotation from Izum, Khakrov oblast. Can you imagine the loss! More than 50% were killed and mainly from air bombing and artillery.

Mychaylo told me that now he got a position of company commander and after such losses the battalion needed augment and round out of units. He brought the list of things that he needed for his company:

20 spades, chainsaws, screwdrivers, generator and couple tablets.

This speaks a lot about the condition of the Ukrainian army, and again this one of the elite brigades. The more I find out about the situation in the army, the more I admire volunteers. 

I presented the case to Zhanna and paid the bill.


Michayolo is to the left.

Not long ago I received a gift from Don Miller. He sent me a seed player. It’s a very simple mp3 player. Don Miller made, in my mind, a great project. He recorded the testimonies of people involved in Samaritan Ministries with some meditation, Bible verses and music. I loved this idea. I asked Don to give me the contacts of the seed player founders. I think that soldiers need a lot of encouragement. I talked to Andriy, the chaplain and two other guys who are involved in chaplain ministry about the idea of making a playlist  of some Plasms, Proverbs, maybe Gospel of John and something else that can light the spirit of the soldiers and give them hope while they face evil.


Hopefully by August we will have 50 seed players, which will be distributed by Andriy and his colleagues among the soldiers in the hospitals and frontline.

 

 Alex

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Russians Continue To Devastate Ukraine

Apartment Houses, shopping malls, and medical training facilities. These are definitely military targets, NOT. What a bunch of assholes. 

Do watch the videos. Hero's one and all. 

Here's the latest from Alex:

 Dear friends,

Last Saturday Zhitomir oblast as well as Kyiv, Chernigov and Lviv oblasts were under mass rocket fire.

Sasha the shoemaker who lives with me woke me up and crying: “We are bombed get out of the house!” The sounds were very loud, the cars’ alert systems went on, the people from the neighboring houses were outside.

Later I found out from the Zhitomir governor's speech: “As of 4:15 am, the enemy once again launched missile strikes on Zhytomyr Oblast!

Missiles were launched from aircraft coming from Belarus. A total of 24 missiles were launched at military units and facilities around Zhytomyr.

I can't comment on where, how or whether there were any casualties.”

Only today was confirmed that all these missiles were aimed at the training center outside of Zhitomir. This is where dr.Judah and I were given training to the military paramedics. So I right away imagined all these people I met there and prayed for them.

Now we know about one dead soldier and two wounded.

Almost the same time Kyiv was under attack too. The missile hit the apartment house not far from Metro Station Lukjanovska, this is one of the central districts in Kyiv, not far from the central Archives in Kyiv, where I used to work with documents. Unfortunately this attack changed the life of one family forever. The father got killed right away, the mother is in critical condition in one of Kyiv's hospitals and a seven year old girl had a couple surgeries and according to the doctors has no threats to her life.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8WdJYLaAoQ

One of the analysts says that Putin wants to drag the war till winter. When Europe will need the most natural gas to heat their homes this might be pressure points for Ukraine to negotiate on not favorable positions and sacrifice some territory.

Food and energy will be number one for Ukraine to survive this coming winter.






It’s God's timing to start the farming initiative project in Vigoda. Due to generous support from friends from the US and Canada I purchased last Friday a 40HP tractor, a farming mill, a plough, discs, hay cutter and a wood chipper. The head of the village allowed us to clean 25km of the mineralization channel. In our estimation this is 1600 cubic meters of wood. This is almost a one year project. We have already received a first order of 50 cubic meters of wood from the business from Zhitomir.

Video:

 https://photos.app.goo.gl/3RwVz6f8caZ41SzV6

It’s better to end this update on a positive note.


Alex

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Alex And Fathers Day

First I'd like to say one thing. I have tried my damndest to find a way to get money to Alex and each time I'm sent around in circles. I wish I could do more, but I think just telling his story is as far as I'll get. 


Dear friends,

Sometimes I feel like the news from Ukraine is too much to share. The more I talk to the people, the more it looks like this war will not end this year.

But there is something positive that I want to share with you.

Last Friday I was invited to celebrate the day of Medical Personnel in the main regional hospital. The governor of Zhitomir oblast came to congratulate the doctors and the nurses. The best doctors and the nurses were given praise and medals.

The director of the hospital in his speech mentioned that not only doctors should be given praise but all the volunteers who came alongside with them . And he called my name.






I received a charter. I would like to share it with you, because of your support  your connections the hospitals in Zhitomir oblast received:

9 boxes of high quality External Fixators

Surgical Led light

Surgical generator with footswitches

25+ medical beds

10 oxygen concentrators

Fiberooptic Cholodocoscope and gastro feeding tubes

2 tons of medical supplies and drugs

 

On the other note. In Ukraine we are starting to celebrate Father’s day. This is something new to us.



When I think of my dad Franz and what life he had  it makes me humble. He survived famine in 1932-33. His mother was arrested and sent to Belomoro-Baltiyskiy Chanel, his father was executed by Russians in 1937. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 and sent to concentration camp Majdanek, Poland. Out of 1,200 prisoners from Zhitomir oblast, only seven came home and he was among them. In 1950 he was arrested and sent to Omsk. He lived till 92.  

There is a lot to learn from his life.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Couple Of Updates From Alex In Ukraine

I'm a little slow posting these. I've been in the hospital for 4 days dealing with Gall Stones, but here we go. 

From 6/14/2022

Dear friends,

Yesterday I visited a military cemetery in Zhytomyr. I found out that one of the guys I know was recently buried there. We were not close friends, but we both shared the passion for hiking. He was my age.

The price Ukraine pays everyday is huge. President Zelensky officially confirmed huge losses: 200 dead and 500 wounded. We lose our territory in the East and the cities in the East turn into ruins, complete ruins.

This is how a town Popasnaya with 20,000 population of 20,000 looks nowadays.



Video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ns12DPHguSo21e3NA

A friend of mine, who serves from the first days of war in the artillery division, came back home for one week. He is a different man now. He lost lots of his comrades. He says that Ukrainians are losing artillery duels. When I asked him when this could be over, he said that there is no end to this invasion. The advantage of Russian artillery is 20 to 1!

Last week I brought from Lviv a van full of medical supplies. This was a donation from Amigo Relief Missions from Alberta Canada. I wish I could have a bigger van. There were all the needy medical disposal supplies. The supply chains have been broken and many hospitals in Ukraine have shortage of them and sure the doctors and nurses were happy to see me again in the hospital.




Video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/SZc1J4gBLqUQSXGx6

This time the medical aid was divided among four hospitals: Zhitomir regional, Pulin district hospitals, Korostyshev district and Baranivka district hospitals.

 


Alex


Then from 6/15/2022

Dear friends,

War in the Eastern and Southern parts of Ukraine gets worse. We have new waves of internally displaced people. Zhitomir regional administration officially registered 38 thousands of them, spread in different communities in Zhitomir oblast.

Couple days ago I met a family from Mariupol. This family ran for their lives and left everything behind. They escaped hell. The family of five, with three little kids, lost their house in Mariupol. As many of you know Mariupol is a complete ruin. When I talked to Andiry, this is the father of the family; he shared about his life before the war. He said that he had a wonderful life there. He was renting out SUP boards at the Azov Sea, his kids went to school and his wife was at their lovely house.



I wanted to do something for this family. My friend, Zhanna, who runs the biggest nonprofit in Zhitomir has lots of contacts and can make many things possible. When I shared with her about Andri’s family she told me that we can get together families from Donetsk and Kherson and have fun with them in the water. She organized dragon boats competitions for refugee families and volunteers who are involved in her nonprofit.


Video: 

https://photos.app.goo.gl/G2SRy1EJE2rx6uhHA

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Wfc5Hibp8dMdxoBP9

What a wonderful idea! Our guests from the war zone were able to relax, see the most beautiful places of Zhitomir, compete and make new friends.

 

Alex


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Camping and FISHING!!!!!!!

We got to Upper Lake Wednesday afternoon. We were the only RV there. 


Set up the trailer and got ready for CAMPING. 

Did I mention the wind was blowing? Weather.com said "small craft advisory". I don't know from "small craft advisory" only that there was white caps on the lake. So I Googled it. 24 to 38 miles per hour. A bit much for kayaking. 


If the lake would have looked like this, I'd have been on it like hair on a gorilla. But no, it had to look like this:


And it only got worse. In fact it stayed this way the whole time we were up there. Never took the kayaks off the truck. 

I grabbed my magnet fishing gear and hit the dock. Well, not literally as I've done in the past. 


This is Wednesday's take. The can must have been a "chum" can and probably Tuna because boy did it stink. Some nails, a few bells that some fisherman use and a few beer caps. 

The one thing I did notice is the lake is FULL. Check it out. 



There was at least 5 feet of beach in both places when we were here last August. 

Thursday morning I parked myself on the dock and put out two lines with the usual Rainbow Power Bait on a slip sinker rig. As usual from the dock, nothing. 




So on Thursday afternoon I set up to the right of the steps in the above picture and it wasn't long before the first hit. In trying to extract myself from the chair (when you're old it's difficult getting up), I let the line go loose and the fish headed into the weeds. Couldn't get it out. Ended up breaking the line. The weeds in that part of the lake look like ocean kelp. BUT, the second bite did make it to the shore. 


I know it looks tiny (it was about 10 inches), but I was standing about 6 feet above the water. Might also mention this is the first fish for 2022. That is so sad. June 10th and the first fish of the year. I also caught a second one right after. 

Thursday I was back on the dock with my fishing magnet. The take is getting smaller. 


But, there is something on the left side of the dock that I latched onto, but after many minutes of tugging on it, couldn't break it loose. 

Went back again Friday morning and tried some more, but it's still down there in about 20 feet of water. I talked to the owner of the resort and he said there was nothing there that he knew about so it could be an outboard motor, blade from a boat, anything. I'll be back at the end of August for further work on it. 

This was dinner Thursday night:


Jalapeno sausage from our local butcher shop smothered with onions (from out next door neighbor's garden) and several colors of bell peppers. Sautéed in Olive Oil and secret spices. Ladies and gentlemen, a dinner to die for. 

So I'll leave you this trip with the usually awesome Upper Lake Sunset. 


We were scheduled to stay until Sunday morning, but left on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning bode of many RV's at the RV dump on the way out and it was supposed to rain. Both those factors make for a messy morning. Zipped right through and drove home in 100 degree heat. And yes, it did rain this morning. 

Stay tuned.  

Monday, June 6, 2022

Always Something Exciting From Ukraine

 Dear friends,

On Saturday I witnessed God’s logistics.

 A semi-truck from Hungary with a donation from hospitals in Austria, Hungary and Romania with hospital beds and respiration machines delivered all these to three hospitals in Zhytomyr.



Videos:

 https://photos.app.goo.gl/jzR6bTEJAfXqF2ZU8

Why I call in God’s logistics, because some people shared what I have been doing in the medical field among their friends and organizations and as a result of it was a semi-truck full of gifts!

Today I visited two villages. Serbo Slobodka and Poninka.

I have connections to two of these villages. Both of these villages are related to my Volyhnian Village Adventure Tours. In 2018 and 2019 my good friends from North America visited their ancestral villages. In both of these villages I made good friends and kept in touch with them all this time.

It was my first time to visit these villages during the war. I sure missed it. I really mean it. I made good friends with Mykola, a village administrator from Serbo Slobodka. In his village we made a lot of good projects. We made a deep well for the villagers; we created a handmade workshop and helped many of the village people.

Tamara is the oldest in the village and she still remembers the way the Germans lived in 1930 in this village. Every time I’m in Serbo Slobodka I visit Tamara. Despite the pain from the shingles she keeps positive and believes in Ukraine’s victory over Russia.

Videos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/nWyK9GF5gVY9SoHK9

https://photos.app.goo.gl/79Knt2G6qtpJs5TN7

https://photos.app.goo.gl/FoTUYVvn2PGAmRen6

Mykola, the village admin told me that there are 36 people in his two villages, Serbo Slobodka and Yablunivka. I brought him food gifts for these families and asked him to help with the survey about the refugees.

Then I drove to Poninka. In 2018 I made good friends with Vlad. He is a deaf boy. When he was a child he lost hearing after meningitis. I helped  him get into a special school for deaf kids in Zhitomir and since that I always play chess with him. This is what he does the best):




Videos:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/yeN71VsdSxx4XdHt8

https://photos.app.goo.gl/5HG5vTXJFtgfHxRf7

I really liked to visit him. He is right now in Lipovka with his grandmother, a village 5 km away from Poninka. What a peaceful place!

On the other note. My younger daughter Violate missed her graduation ceremony in Ukraine. When they were in church last Sunday, she was invited to attend a Christian school for a month. Now she will have a graduation in Canada! Now she is looking for a dress!



Alex

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

A Short Update From Alex In Ukraine

 Dear friends,

Today I visited the village of Zhukin. This village is located to the North of Kyiv oblast. Originally I was planning to visit Desna, a city in Chernigov oblast, but due to a recent missile attack on a military center there, where more than 300 recruits were killed and more than 200 were injured. Without special permission I could not visit Desna.

On the way to Zhukin I travelled through Irpin and Kyiv city. The highway to Kyiv was more or less cleaned from the remains of the burned cars and tanks, but the evidence of war is still very obvious. What was previously a prosperous suburb of Kyiv now is land of desolation.



It used to be my favorite stop for borsch. 

 The village administrator of Zhukin Valentina told me that their small village hosted more than 300 hundred families, mainly from Chernihiv oblast. I brought them boxes of food and clothing which I picked up at Zhitomir Community foundations.


On the way back to Zhitomir I stopped at the gas station that would not have any lines for a long time. Before the war I would stop at these gas stations with my tour members for what I called 4 star toilets.

Video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/1LZDh9rTdiuaFKnN8

This is a video of what you could see on the highway to Kyiv

Video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/yjecJhwXCWXXq3TLA

I was so proud to see Polish and Ukrainian flags flying on the bridge in Makariv district. I was happy to see two of my favorite flags together. 

Video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/jwaF8XTVkR4VTZZR6 

On the other note. My observation. When I talked to my tour members from North America I heard that they like their life but most of them did not like their political leaders. In Russia most of the people hate their life and complain about it a lot but they mostly like their leader, Putin. What a huge difference!

 Alex

Friday, May 27, 2022

Memorial Day Weekend

Here we are, the unofficial start to Summer 2022. Memorial Day Weekend. 

I was sitting on the couch scrolling through YouTube Channels and came across the 1949 movie Sands of Iwo Jima with the “Duke” John Wayne.

That just started my brain thinking “I wonder if my dad was at the landing at Iwo. So I pulled up Wikipedia for the USS William P. Biddle APA8 Attack Transport. My dad was a CPO (Chief Petty Officer) on the ship until he had a heart attack near the end of WWII and retired.

USS William P. Biddle



The ship wasn’t at Iwo, but it was at Tarawa. I’ll get to that later.

Alan at Small Stream Reflections (who recently passed away as you all know) always did a very heartwarming post on Memorial Day. Those who served, know how heart wrenching it is to lose a fellow service member. I don’t have those feelings as I was never in the military. Not that they didn’t try to draft me in 1965 at the beginning of the Vietnam War, in fact they tried 5 different times.

So I thought I’d just put a little post out to remind everyone that Memorial Day isn’t about camping, mall sales, or that special deal at the local auto mall you see 40 or 50 times every hour on TV.

It’s about those who gave all.  

Back to Tarawa (the Gilbert Islands Campaign). The assault on Tarawa cost the lives of 990 Marines. Those are who you should remember on Memorial Day.

My Dad



My dad was also at the assault of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. Many lives were lost in each of those campaigns. They are who you should remember on Memorial Day.

And it’s not just about WWII, its about all the military personnel who have lost their lives, male & female, in the service of their country.

Here’s a short list of those we lost by war:

WWI – 117,000

WWII – 405,399

Korea – 54,260

Vietnam – 58,220

Gulf War – 219

Afghanistan – 1921

These are the people we should remember on Memorial Day Monday 5/30/2022

Stay Tuned.

Monday, May 16, 2022

A New Place To Camp

We planned our first camping trip of 2022 to Hendy Woods State Park. By the way the crow files, 214 miles and a little over 4 hours travel time if in warp speed. Rambling along I-80 to highway 37 across the North Bay and then up Highway 101 to Cloverdale. Off 101 and along highway 128 with the reminder of the destroyed tire and rim on one of our previous trailers, through Boonville (they speak a different language. They call it Boontling.) to the park. Last time I think is around 6 hours. 

Last time I filled up the truck, it was $90.00 and I still had a 1/4 tank. This trip would have easily cost the better part of $300.00 in gas plus the $188.00 camping fee. We decided that was way too much when all this trip is, is mainly wine tasting. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against wine tasting (keep in mind I don't drink) except spending nearly $500.00 just to get there when we can go around the corner, so to speak, and wine taste in the Shenandoah Valley. 

So we cancelled that trip and made reservations at an RV campground off Highway 4 in the little town of Arnold, California. If you've followed this blog, you know that White Pines Lake is in Arnold. Nice little kayaking lake, stocked Trout in the Winter, and a plethora of small sunfish. 

Got there at 1pm on Thursday and set up the trailer. Elevation about 5000 ft. For those not familiar with the California terrain, the higher you go, the colder it gets. The high on Thursday was about 60 degrees. 

Here are a couple of photos for your enjoyment. 




 Then came Thursday night. Our trailer is rated "all weather" so were supposed to be able to camp in "all weather". What we forgot was to set the heater so it didn't get really cold. Outside Thursday night I'd estimate it got to the low 30's. We froze even under a blanket, comforter, and a quilt. Didn't make that mistake Friday and Saturday nights. 

With the trouble I have getting around, we spent Friday just hanging out and enjoying the quiet that you get in the mountains. Watched a movie (Men In Black International) Friday night. 

Saturday we went up to Alpine Lake to see if my new idea about fishing would work. Let me explain. Since I can't carry fishing rods, tackle box, chairs, rod holders, and assorted snacks, I bought, for fishing and for working in the yard, something called a Gorilla Cart. 

Looks exactly like this. 

 

The plan was to pile in all the items listed above and with my cane in my right hand, the handle in my left, wander down to the lake and soak some Power Bait. 

We found one parking lot open. Half the parking spaces (about 12) were full with people doing what ever they were doing and the other row 5 feet deep in snow. Needless to say, couldn't find a place to park because every other tiny space had a "No Parking" sign. Can't say I didn't try. 

So we threw in the towel and went back to the campground. Saturday was nice, almost 80 degrees. Read some, snoozed some and listened to the dogs barking and the children screaming. 

Ah, typical weekend camping. Up and back on a 1/2 tank of gas. 

If you haven't seen this, how's this for a Sunfish?

https://www.outdoorlife.com/fishing/lake-havasu-sunfish/

I haven't given up trying to fish with this gimpy body. 

Stay tuned.