Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Fly Fishing Trip

Thursday Sept. 11,2014

I let Ron drive as we headed out t'word the Blue Mountains. The first reason was that the wind was blowing stiffly at 15-20 mph. I've told you before how tough that is. The second was something I'd forgotten until we got on the highway. Then I was glad he was driving, and not me. Its Round-up week! The highway was crawling with crazies heading for Round-up. The Pendleton Round-up is billed as one of the largest rodeo's in the country. Its certainly the closest approximation of what it was like in the 'old west,' when the cowboy's came in off the range with their pay burning a hole in their pockets. You can certainly find a plethora of livestock, beer, brawls, and drunken cowpokes taking over the town for the entire week. The locals either hunker down, or get outa town! The Rodeo and Happy Canyon show are pretty entertaining, too! Since the Umatilla, Cayuse & Nez Perce reservation is just down the highway, there is plenty of authenic native presence.  Traffic problems magically evaporated once we were past the last Pendleton exit, which is the casino and brand new 10 story hotel. I think there were only 5 vehicles left, strung out along the highway leading to Cabbage Hill. Cabbage Hill is so steep, they improved the uphill side to 3 lanes of traffic. I guess the state highway department got tired of hearing complaints from drivers that got stuck behind  2 semi's snail racing. My little RV churned up the hill like a champ, catching up with a pair of snail racers, passing them using the far left lane. The wind was still steady at 15 mph. I'd researched RV hook-ups in the area before being exiled. I'd found one East of La Grande, and one South of Baker City, that sounded like they woukd be safe enough for me. Since I didn't want to drive 20 miles out of Baker, then return to Baker and drop off Ron the next morning we stopped at Hot Lake hotel RV campground, on the east side of La Grande, for the evening. The original Hot Lake Hotel has been refurbished and reopened. It has quite the history. Its heyday was in 1924-1932. It received guests from all over the world. Back when my husband and I lived in La Grande it was closed down. I always wanted to see inside. That won't happen now, but the RV park was spacious and the host very accommodating. We got a spot clear out on the end all by ourselves, and we didn't get toxed. We had a lovely evening together chatting, until Ron fell asleep, at 8:00! SMH Poor guy, he's exhausted. 

Friday, Sept. 12, 2014

After a leisurely breakfast we packed up and drove the remaining hour to Baker City. I dropped Ron off to do some family business with his folks. I chose the Bi-mart parking lot, it was far enough away from the florishing lawns, the weed n feed , and garden dust. That sounds so simple, but it actually entails some finagling. Ron has to change out of his safe RV clothes and into "street clothes." We had a set, in a sealed plastic bag, set aside for this specific occassion. He quickly donned them and hopped out, when there was no immediate parking lot traffic zooming by. His Dad was there to pick him up. I was going to see if there were any free internet sites that I could tap into to refine my list of local properties that I wanted to look at, only the sites were all restricted usage. Since property sites have pics, and use a lot,  it didn't work so well. I did, however, contact the Window Doctor, and have their mobile unit come by and repair a rock chip I'd got on my way down the mountain (Thursday) when a log truck went screaming by me on the two lane highway. I also had the young man do a second one that I'd previously gotten, but hadn't called a guy at home yet. The young man that came, and his boss, were very accommodating, helpful and friendly. He did an excellent job. Since the city fumes were starting to permeat the RV, even though it was closed up, I headed out for Union Creek Campground, at Phillips Lake, by myself. Its 20 miles South of Baker City, t'wards Sumpter. I wanted to look at some properties in that area first. 

When I'd called the camp hosts at Union Creek Campground before I'd bugged out and explained my needs and accommodations requests, they'd assured me that their spaces were 50 ft apart and they'd work with me anyway they needed to. When I arrived at the campground I found it was everything they claimed (that doesn't always happen). It was 'ungroomed' or natural, the spaces were nicely spread out, and it wasn't crowded. I drove around all the loops trying to see which sites would work the best. The camp host intercepted me in their electric cart, and asked if I needed any help. I told them who I was, which spot I planned to take, and that my husband would be along later to pay the bill. They were good with that. The hostess was very friendly, her husband looked away and could no longer make eye contact. I discomfitted him. However, it wasn't very long and they showed up to see if I needed any help backing in to my spot. :-) I guess his wife hadn't told him about me. He just needed a moment to absorb it and adjust. I'm pretty good at backing a 30ft RV into a tight spot, on my own. Practice. ;-) It wasn't just RV backing, before TI I used to drive hay truck & trailer, haul livestock trailers, and equipment trailers during surveying. Lots of practice. I guess it earned a bit of respect with that guy, being that I'm a woman who can back an RV precisely into a spot, in one shot. By the time Ron and his folks showed up I was feeling refreshed. I had a chance to visit with them, outside, where the air was clean. I was feeling almost normal. After they left and  Ron had paid for our spot, a couple more RVs showed up and took spots next to us. The wind was coming from the right direction, so unless they were running their motor it wasn't even a problem. Unfortunately they were the kind of people that didn't want their dogs messes by their spots, so they walked them down to do it in front of ours! @@ What's up with that! They have all this forest around them and they have their dogs dump on the road?! SMH We decided that the next night, we'd find a different spot,ma little further away.

Since we still had several hours of daylight, we unplugged the RV and drove up to Sumpter to see what we could see. We checked some of the listings on a reader board at a realty office and then returned to Union Creek campground to have supper. It was a very relaxing day. No fishing yet, but thats o.k., too. Ron was looking more relaxed, and less exhausted, and we stayed up and visited, turning in around 9:30 p.m.

Saturday Sept. 13, 2014

We woke up at a reasonable time. 7:30. Those black out curtains I made sure work good. We had a light breakfast, unhooked the RV, stowed our gear and headed down the road to the Powder River to get in some early morning fly fishing. I hadn't been in 30 years! It was lovely to listen to the river's song and soak up the sun. Rosie and I had a great time. I figured I'd have to practice my casting, and probably wouldn't catch much. Only, I seemed to have picked the hot spot. I was getting bites on 
every third cast. The fish was mouthing it, then spitting it out. Sometimes he'd hang on for a little bit and Rosie and I both would get excited. I think I was 'horsing him in.' Thats why he kept coming off the line. So I tried to slow down and play him a little. I also tried to remember how to set the hook a little better. When I wasn't getting him on the line for a while Rosie would settle down on the rock, stretch out and fall asleep. Then, sploish! she'd slip off the rock into the drink, LOL! An amateur photographer wandered by and used us for a subject for awhile. He said he was going to send any good photos to Ron's email. Ron wasn't catching any fish. He was spending way too much time answering his iphone. Both calls and emails! @@ I did the loving, supportive wifey thing and hollored down the river, "Shut that thing off!" 

It took me awhile to get everything just right and I landed a fish! It was a brook trout. The legal limit is 8". Mine was 8.5" Ron told me later that part of the time he spent on his phone was looking up the regs. He didn't want me to be hauled off to jail for harvesting an illegal fish! Rosie was so excited, that she tried to bite the fish, to help me get a hold of him when we were bringing him in. 
 
I caught a couple more but they were less than 8", so I carefully unhooked them and put them back. We had that little guy for breakfast the next morning. Yumm! 

Fly fishing is hot in the morning and evening, when the bugs are working over the water. So when it looked like the feeding cycle had slowed we packed up our equipment (and put my fish on ice) and headed back up to Sumpter to find a realtor. We picked the agency that had the reader board as our first try. Sandra was in the office, and answered our call (from the parking lot). She didn't freak out. She actually has a friend with fibromyalgia and her old boss was extremely fragrance sensitive. Perfect. She came out and let me do a sniff test. I had no problems with her at 10 ft! I told her what I was looking for and she winnowed the properties she had available down to 2. We followed her out to the first one. It was one that I'd seen pics of on websites. Only, the pics had failed to show how close to a neighbor and the highway it was. We nixed that one off our list. The second one we followed her too was way off the highway. I liked that and I loved the area. The piece was 40 acres. It was basically shaped like a hard taco shell, steep on two sides with a flat bottom. I loved the part at the bottom of the draw. A nice sized creek ran through it. It had a small meadow, and a tiny cabin. It was perfect. Well, except there was no power, phone, internet or cell... If something happened to me down their,  I couldn't get help. I thought I could find some work arounds for some of that. The current owners had gone to a lot of expense improving the access road. It was very well done. The problem was that it was very steep and curvy. I could imagine what it would be like during winter. I would not want to be driving my 30ft RV up or down that in February when spray season starts. Also, heavy rain or a thaw would wash it out. There would be ongoing maintenance expenses, involving diesel equipment. I very reluctantly, and regretfully had to take that one off my list. I could see Ron relax, when I made my decision. 

One of the things I found that I'd lost, with my chemical induced brain damage, was my memories of how this part of the country was laid out. When I was looking on the internet at properties I couldn't place where they were. So we drove to some of the nearby regions, so I could get a fix on them. We headed South from Sumpter, over the mountain, clear to Austin Junction, and branching out to Greenhorn. We looked at Whitney. I considered buying the whole town of Whitney, its that small. It was off the highway far enough. But it just didn't have enough trees. Trees are air scrubbers. I need trees. Driving out to some of these remote areas helped me get a feel for how far out they were, so I could think about how far out I really wanted to be. 

Around 2:00 we headed back to the Union Creek Campground to pick out a new spot and have a late lunch, early dinner. We did a little house keeping, including redressing Rosie's wound. This was the first day I wasn't checking it twice a day. It was healing very nicely. All closed up. :-) No infection. I was leaving the bandage on, mostly for protection from flies, since it had dried blood. 

At 4:30 we headed back to the Powder River. Our spot was being used by some picnicers, so we chose a new one. This time it was Ron's turn for the hot spot. He caught fish after fish! He didn't keep them, but returned them carefully to the stream. I just got in lots of casting practice. But that was o.k. too. It was lovely to just be there. Rosie and I tried several spots along the stream. We hiked up and down the bank and clambered over rocks and through underbrush. We had a great time. Ron's best friend lives in the area, so he gave him a call and he drove over and visited with us while we were fishing. When I'd had enough the three of us headed back to the parking lot and stood around, chatting, and watching the bats snag mosquitos out of the air above us. We finally said good night when it was fully dark and we couldn't see our hands infront of our faces. :-} Ron, Rosie and I headed back to Union Creek. Docking the RV was pretty quick and simple. Back in, level, plug in. We enjoyed a snack and a companionable visit before turning in. We also called our daughter and asked them to join us for dinner, at home, Sunday afternoon. Ron looked tons more relaxed and refreshed. I was glad. I hate the stress that my condition has added to his life. 

Sunday Sept. 14, 2014

The next morning we ate that tasty trout. Ron did the cooking. He set up the outside table, with the electric hot plate. We do very smelly cooking outside to keep the inside VOC free, wether they're toxic or not. He cleaned the trout, dredged him in spelt flour with salt and pepper and fried him in butter. We saved the fins for Rosie, and I gave her my crispy fried fish skin. Since I've been taking those cod liver oil caps, I've come to appreciate the flavor of trout much more. I still don't like skin though. After breakfast I did the dishes, except the frying pan. Ron did that outside, to keep the grease out of the system. And we both packed up and stowed gear. Then we headed for Baker City to get fuel and head for home.

Thats when the problem began. We pulled into the Safeway parking lot on Campbell St, near the interchange. I called 4 different gas stations trying to find one that would accommodate me. I explained that I was disabled, and the accommodation that I needed. All I was asking is that they allow me to pay for my gas, using my credit card, over the phone because I can't open the window or door. It is something that I have done all over Oregon and in Washington as well. I was discriminated against by all 4. I was flat refused service. Most of the people that I called used trumped up excuses that I know were false. Mustang's attendant said, its against company policy." It may be against company policy but that policy violates the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is Federal Law that a private entity, including businesses,  MUST change and modify their policies, practices and procedures to accommodate the disabled, as necessary, so that the disabled party is not denied service, or harmed, on the basis of their disability. USA Gasoline, refused my accommodation request, saying that they "Couldn't take credit cards over the phone."I'm a business manager too. I know that if you can take credit card payments, you can manually enter the card #. I asked which service stations in town would take cards over the phone. His reply, "Everybody but us." Baker Truck Corral was the most discriminatory. She left me on hold for a long time, supposedly waiting for her manager, and then came back and rudely told me that they wouldn't because "...they don't know who (I) am. And (they) require picture ID." I told her I have picture ID and they can look at it through the driver's window. She cut me off, and hung up on me. Her first excuse is obviously discriminatory because they don't personally know the majority of their clientele because the majority of their business comes from the Interstate... I then tried Humble's Sinclair station. The attendant flat refused, and then told me I'd have to speak to the manager. I got his number but by this time we'd (my husband, myself and my service dog) had spent 45 minutes in the Safeway parking lot, calling directory service for numbers and trying to negotiate with these people, and the interior temperature was climbing. By their refusal to accommodate my disability, and failure to act compassionately, they were endangering my health and the health of my service dog. I am multiply and systemically disabled. I can't handle extreme temperatures either. Both endangering a disabled person, and a service dog, are federal violations. We couldn't continue to waste time (and money, since I get charged for 411 calls) calling every other service station.  Because of their discrimination I was violated on the very bases of my disability, and harmed. Both Ron and I were very upset. Its a horrible feeling to be discriminated against. Ron was angry because that meant our other choices for getting fuel involved exposing, and harming me, no matter how hard he tried not to. It put us in a position of having to harm me, when a little bit of compassion, and accommodation, would have prevented it. Its against the law to refuse to reasonably accommodate the disabled. 

We drove to a card lock station that my husband uses for work. Ron got out. Exposure one: Opening the door draws in toxins. Once Ron leaves the RV and steps out into a toxic environment his clothes are contaminated. I laid out a clean set, and the sealable bin to contain the VOC contaminated clothes when he came back in to change. He can't strip them off outside... He got the tank filled. He entered thru the coach door.  Exposure two: A big one, the door opened drawing in the fumes from the gas that was just dispensed. Exposure three: VOCs are spewing off of his person, and the clothes every second that he's in here and the clothes aren't contained and he hasn't showered. He stripped off his contaminated clothes and jumped in the shower. I binned them. He showers. We can't run the exhaust fan because it draws air in from outside, which is more contaminated. Residual VOCs are still,hanging in the air. Since we're not on shore power I can't run two of my three purifiers. Exposure four: ongoing volatized toxins in the air and on the surfaces, until the interior of the RV is decontaminated again. The integrity of my Medical Mobile Isolation Unit was compromised. Ron had to watch my condition deteriorate all the way home. No kids for dinner. Everything shut down.

Mon. Sept. 15, 2014

I was so angry I wanted to call all Ron's friends, family and contacts in Baker City (he grew up there) and ask them to drive into those stations and tell them they won't be using their station anymore because they don't accommodate the disabled. But I calmed down. I called the Baker City Chamber of Commerce and spoke with the director. I requested that they have the ADA do Sensitivity Training for disabled, and especially for the chemically sensitive. I explained to her what happened, and she requested me to put it in writing, for the Chamber Board and the ADA's office. I included this statement as an example of the simple, and reasonable accommodation I was seeking, 

 "The protocol that has been established for, and by, the people of my class of disabled (the chemically sensitive, who are the fastest growing subset of the disabled population- ADA Region 10, 2008), is to call the merchant, in this case the gas service station and pay over the phone with a credit card. Any other individual preferences of the station (ID, etc), or the disabled person can be discussed at that time. For instance, I have the merchant put my receipts in a specific place, a certain basement bin on my MMIU, or a ziploc bag in the cooler in the bed of my small truck. 

 

A similar protocol is used when I access other merchants, since I can't enter stores due to the toxic chemicals in cleaning products, pesticides, construction materials, furnishings and other people's personal care products. I contact them by phone, place my order, and then call when I arrive at their location and pay over the phone. The vendor brings my merchandise out to my vehicle, along with my receipt.

 

These are reasonable accommodations under the law. I have used this protocol all over Oregon and many locations in Washington, with many different types of vendors, and have never been refused or discriminated against before now. Neither fear, nor ignorance, is an acceptable excuse."

I included that last statement about fear because she wanted me to understand that the local merchants could have been afraid that I was a scammer. Well thats no excuse! They could get scammers from non-disabled clients, they aren't refusing everybody else, just in case one of them was a scammer. Besides, I was trying to arrange to pay, and I offered to provide picture ID. One of my options would have to have been to call the cops and report a hate crime. Maybe I should have done that. I just thought that it might be better to educate rather than annihilate. 

You know it took me several days to calm down enough to write this entry. I didn't want that negative ending to obliterate what a wonderful time the majority of the trip was. I had to work at re-adjusting my perspective. I won't let those prejudicial people steal that otherwise lovely trip from me. 

The director of the Baker City Chamber said that she contacted the ADA, and forwarded my request to the Chamber's Board. I'll be contacting the ADA to follow up to see if they actually do get invited to Baker City to do the Training. If not, I'll file a complaint with the USDOJ,  ADA office in DC. There is no statute of limitations for crimes of discrimination.

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