Tuesday, November 24, 2015

About that Cruise

Our children bought us a cruise through Travelocity on Carnival for Michael's retirement. They were super-saver tickets. When insurance was offered it was made to sound like insurance for luggage etc and our son, knowing we could care less if we lose our luggage, declined it.

Our doctor informed us October 30th he did not think it wise for us to travel. He didn't want us driving down the highway, let alone to the Bahamas.  We contacted Travelocity and followed their instructions.

We heard nothing - until 12 Nov - 13 days later.  At that point they changed their instructions. We needed to CANCEL the reservation before Carnival would review it. AND now we were within the window where we would be penalized 75% if we cancelled the ticket. If I waited until the 13th we would be penalized 100%. Nifty how they managed to contact me on the very last day to get any refund?

I realize some have had GREAT experiences with Travelocity. This is not the first time I've had trouble with them. While in Japan I was scheduled to fly when a typhoon hit. I couldn't fly. Travelocity wouldn't refund.

Nonetheless, I called Travelocity and attempted to beg for a bit of compassion.

They would not let me travel with another person.

They would not let me give the tickets to two other people.

My choices were 1. lose 75% ("and tomorrow it will be 100%") or 2. take the cruise alone.  I was NOT talking to the call center by the time I was done. I had "escalated" the call 3 levels.... "You have reached the escalation center."  OK - "WHO IS ABOVE YOU?" Finally, the cream of their crop was talking to me and gave me these two options.

I reminded her the doctor didn't want Michael to travel as he was on a new drug which may have complications. I asked her what in the world I would do if I were in the Bahamas and he had a heart attack or such. Her response - from the top level supervisor of Travelocity -  "That sounds like a family issue to me." OY vey! I was DONE! She began to read her script again about how they can't help us, how this was a super-saver ticket and insurance wasn't purchased... and I actually interrupted and told her not to read the script again. I understood what she was saying. Policy did say we should lose 75% of the tickets, and I couldn't change the names. I had just hoped for a bit of compassion.  I told her to cancel the cruise. They kept 75% of the price and refunded the rest to Josiah.

I decided to write to Carnival again now that the cruise was cancelled. On 12 Nov I re-sent all the email traffic between their company and me and the doctor's letter.  I explained what Travelocity had concluded and I asked if they would show a bit more compassion and consider the situation. I NEVER asked anyone for a refund - I just asked to be able to reschedule or to change the names on the tickets.

We waited. We prayed.  Josiah is a rock! We all felt terrible about this.

We received an email from Carnival. " You’ll be pleased to know that we’ve made a one-time exception to our policy.  Given the circumstances, we’d like to extend a  $$$$ discount towards a future Carnival cruise." The discount and the $300 and change Travelocity refunded totals the cost of the cruise. We have two years to book the cruise and they will apply the discount. We will not book through Travelocity. I understand that the amount they refunded was probably their "cut" from the tickets and Carnival had been given the 75%.....however, their LEADERSHIP'S flippant lack of compassion "Sounds like a family issue...." well that's what lost them my business forever.  

So, we are going to go on the cruise - just not now.  We are not doing business with Travelocity ever again - no "super saver" deal can make up for this total lack of compassion or customer care.  We are humbled by Carnival's willingness to extend grace in our time of need.

Trip to Sacramento (Neurologists)

Michael and I took off yesterday for a little trip to Sacramento. Nah, it wasn't a couple's getaway - it was a trip to see two fantastic neurologists at UC Davis.  They talked with us, asked questions, and ran Michael through a gamut of performance tests again.  They noted the progression of his symptoms and the effect being off the meds for Essential Tremors had made (none).

photo via google images
The upshot of the trip is they both confirmed they are "confident in the Parkinson's diagnosis," and Michael is starting meds. There may a bit of a hold up as the base doesn't carry the med the neurologist prescribed. The base pharmacy is trying to talk our neurologists into another med, and said it would take a bit of time to get this one if they insist. We suspect they'll insist, and he'll have the meds by next week.

The timing of this diagnosis - right at retirement - makes it a bit of a challenge. Most still have work to occupy their time and mind while they settle into the diagnosis.  Not much changes in real life, as they adjust to living with a new condition. For us, it affected our immediate work/ministry plans....and now our driving plans....We talked about ways to continue to "think ahead" and not make retirement all about Parkinson's.  We were a bit discouraged to be reminded this is the "beginning" and things are going to get worse, but that's all the more reason to get busy doing the things we feel God is calling us to do.

We also discovered: my stubbornness and sense of humor are gifts Michael should appreciate, we love both our neurologists, Michael can't eat aged meats and cheeses any longer (going to have to research), and he has gained an amount of retirement weight, too. Michael doesn't gain weight.  We have some assignments to focus on between now and our next visit.

The plan is still to stay in the area until the next appointment. At that point, if all is well, we'll hit the road again and come back for appointments every 3 - 6 months.

Prayers are appreciated that this med will give Michael relief from some of the more troublesome symptoms with very little side effects.....AND that we have grace to deal with the ones he does experience. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Socializing on the Loop

Saturday we got to celebrate THIS little one's first birthday.  Teegan is a beautiful little girl. She was NOT overly excited about digging into her cake. ::grin:: 

She was still reluctant even after Daddy showed her it was o.k. 

We knew Ky and Amy in our active duty lives....it is fun to connect now that we're all "out" and living the life at the Fam Camp. 

They invited several from the Loop and it was a great afternoon getting to know our neighbors  a bit more. Everyone, but us, are hitting the road in January. We will stay until Michael's neurology appointment in February. 

The above photo (though unflattering) illustrates a few things I want to comment on: 
  • I have no scale with me but I've obviously put on some retirement weight. 
  • I met Betty in the laundry room our first week here. She and Joe, her husband, have been full timing for years. They have family here and come back to Beale Fam Camp each year. I've learned a lot from her in our conversations. She brought over some YUMMY tangerines from her son's tree this afternoon! I want to grow tangerines in my yard. 
  • I enjoy how the full-time RV life brings together all generations.The other couple attending were our age; retired from the Navy in June and are full-time RVing. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Grace Space: A Direct Sales Tale by Robin Merrill

Grace Space: A Direct Sales Tale by Robin Merrill is 165 pages of witty, quirky fun!  This quick read follows the life of Darcy, a 24 year old who lives at home with her parents as she struggles to pay off her student loans. When she hears she can make $40 an hour by selling Grace Space merchandise she jumps at the chance with hilarious results.

This quick read gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of an eccentric direct sales company - Grace Space.  Robin makes a clear distinction between the "faith" of grace space and the true gospel experienced at New Life Church.  She also introduces us to several charming, unconventional characters along the way.

I did find myself uncomfortable in places - surely the author realizes not all direct sales companies operate this way. 

Lastly, I wished the ending had not been quite so abrupt - a slower build up to the end - or more details would have been appreciated. I would love to read what happens to Luke and Darcy after this snippet of their lives.

Grace Space is a great read for a winter's day...or a rainy spring day....or any time you want something "fun and light" to read. It provided a pleasurable afternoon. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free in exchange for an honest review; I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".

Friday, November 20, 2015

#WYFF - PWOC Page Turners

Cynthia picked me up this morning and we headed to Jennifer's house. My feet found their way to PWOC Page Turners. Neither of us had finished the book - my life's been in a bit of transition - Cynthia's packing up home and bodies and heading to Italy.

Why did we go to book club without finishing the book?

We knew we'd find sweet community. A chance to sit with friends and share yummy treats, inspiring discussion and the inspiration to read a few more chapters in the book.

Being able to attend PWOC Page Turners a few more months is one of the blessings of being back at Beale.

Psssst - thanks for being such good sports and letting me get a #WYFF picture gals!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Early Morning Blessings

 It is nice to be in a location which greets Yuuki and I each morning with beautiful sunrises. We now stay near the perimeter of the campground until the sun is fully up and Coyotes leave us alone.


We've discovered lovely hiking trails right off the road - fire pits in the woods...beavers in the lake....herons....geese...duck......another lake......and lots of "warning keep out"  signs. There are many fun things to see on our walks out here. 

Yuuki drags me out each morning - but once out it is a nice break from The Caboose. This morning we logged 9, 250 steps (3.87 miles) before I found my way back home. 10,000 steps will be easy to hit today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Spectacular Dental Visit

Every day can't be hiking, looking into volcanoes and climbing lighthouses. Even full-timing RVers must see their dentists. 

Gherkins love visiting Drs Zanzi

Six months ago, when we scheduled these appointments, we thought we'd cancel them as we'd not be in the area. It turns out we are back for Michael's medical care and we've all been able to keep our dental appointments!  I have no idea how we are going to manage this once we hit the road...we may come back to Roseville every six months....or find another dentist in a central location??? They talked me into making appointments now and we'll see if we can keep them.

I love Gherkin dental day. I blogged and caught up on a bit of book-work. 

NO CAVITIES! None - not one!  This dentist doesn't believe in "watching" cavities - read I think they fill them very quickly and the Air Force dental clinic in Misawa seemed to watch until you said it hurt. SO...we've had a lot of cavities filled in the past two  years....but not one today!

Gherkins like post-dental visit celebrations more than seeing the dentist
As a matter of fact - we DID celebrate. Yep, shakes at Chick Fil A.  

The only concerning note in the day is that they are sure Stacia needs braces - and I know she will. We were told this at her first dental visit...she has a deep under-bite. We just don't know how to make it happen. They don't want to begin either her or Nolan unless we think we'll be here two years...and we haven't a clue what life will be like in 2 years. LOL