October 12, 2009

Fall Colors, an Apology, and a Quick Health Reminder

So the Lobster and I are back from our brief New England Fall Foliage tour, and though we were too lazy to take pictures, we had a great time!

Er, well, most of the trip, anyway. Perhaps not the night when we'd settled down in our lovely campsite by the pretty pond, finished dinner, and were just preparing for a peaceful night's sleep in our trusty campervan when...


Our propane alarm went off, warning us of a potential gas leak.

Did I mention this was a completely deserted campground inside a beautiful state park miles from anywhere that promised awesome hiking, and that it was already paid for and nonrefundable?

We carefully considered our options: we could mute the frantic bleating sound, assuming it was only a false alarm (albeit the first one ever in seven years). Of course there would be small chance we might asphyxiate in our sleep, but as far as accidental death goes... that's really not an unpleasant one, right?

Nighty Night, Sleep Tight!
(Photo: O Pish Posh)

Much better to go to sleep inhaling propane than be wide awake and meet up with a huge hungry grizzly bear, or fall off a cliff or something.
Warning: Hurts More Than Falling Asleep.

Plus, if we never woke up, then we wouldn't have to unpack and clean the van again on our return!

But on balance, we decided it was probably worth hauling our sleepy asses back out of the lovely forest and onto the highway in search of a motel. And instead of hiking the next morning, we'd attempt to find an RV repair shop, one of our perennial favorite road-trip amusement stops.

As it turned out, the reason no one else was in our pretty campground even though it was the height of fall colors? All the leaf-peeping tourists were crammed into every motel room within two hours of us. After numerous "No Vacancies" we finally found a room at "America's Best," which we later learned must be short for the less well-known "America's Best Shithole" motel chain.

To be fair, as far as shithole motel rooms went, it probably was one of the best bets out there. To summarize:

Downsides: grease, grime, cigarette-burned bedclothes, rusted metal fixtures, water-stained ceilings, odd unidentifiable smears on doors and walls, a tiny lumpy double bed, funky moldy/garbagey smells, tattered carpet and drapes, peeling wallpaper, banged-up furniture, cobwebs, missing coffee-maker, cracked mirrors, and a couple of curious houseflies.

Upsides: No gunfire, prostitutes, drug-dealers, drunken screaming neighbors, rodents, arachnids, vipers or cockroaches. Plus, the toilet, while grimy, actually flushed and the shower had hot water. And it was cheap!

The Happy Ending: Van got fixed the next morning, our hiking and touring resumed that afternoon, and we consoled ourselves over our temporary misfortune with a Special Road Trip Treat: cheeseburgers!

So Sorry!

Alert readers may notice a bit of blogging laziness lately, as I gear up for the Cranky Fitness Big-Ass Giveaway and Cross Country Road trip. I've been terrible about answering emails, commenting at my favorite blogs, and doing much in the way of extensive health and fitness research. Again, thank goodness for helpful co-bloggers! And I swear that once I get settled on the west coast I'll start doing researchy posts where I try to dig up and report on actual useful information. Or barring that, at least I'll scout around and find some soccer players in their underwear, Sarah Haskins videos, or cute Lolcats.

And now for the promised health reminder:

Summer's Over, How's Your Vitamin D?

Many people, especially those in northern latitudes, don't get nearly enough vitamin D during the winter. (And we don't mean northern latitudes like Fairbanks, we mean northern like Boston and San Francisco.) Consider supplementing with some D-3, or get a few minutes of early morning or late afternoon sunshine without sunscreen. Perhaps sometime this winter, Cranky Fitness will sponsor a clothing-optional blogathon for Vitamin D awareness!

Outside is Better, But Maybe the Window's Open?
(Photo: kindofindie)

So send in your pictures of yourself blogging naked in the winter sunshine and we'll... well, I'm not sure what we'll do, besides giggle, but it will be arguably good for your health and may boost our pageviews.

Or, a more practical idea: next time you have a physical, ask to have your Vitamin D blood levels tested. Sure, depending on your doctor you may end up feeling like a high-maintenance hypochondriac, but screw it, it's worth it to get a number and have some clue if you're deficient. Some folks do all the right things and still somehow end up low.

(Bonus: if you take the test and find out your blood levels are great, it's an awesome smug feeling!)

Wait, I Forgot, Why Do We Care About Vitamin D?

It's the new hip nutrient (acai berries are so last year), and it seems to be linked to lowering risk of all kinds of health problems. It appears Vitamin D lowers risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases like M.S., diabetes, and Alzheimer's.

Thanks for your patience! Any thoughts on fall foliage, crappy motels, interrupted vacations, vitamin D, or nude blogging?


  1. I have experienced that... but I'm not going to tell you which of your topics I mean!

  2. Vitamin D is added to our milk here in Canada-- so all we have to do to get what we need is have a glass. Any vitamin supplement should offer enough Vitamin D that blood tests are unnecessary. A single supplement per day won't hurt anything and what you don't need you just eliminate through urine.

    Barb, not associated with that health centre that is commenting on blogs and trying to drum up membership.

  3. I think I'm blind...you should put a warning sign up before posting naked folk!

    America's Best Shithole...I spit out water on monitor..it's okay I'm sure it needed to be cleaned anyhow.

    I stayed at one of these type places when I was in highschool and a friend and I went to the cape, we were wondering if there may be a dead hooker under the boxspring. We wrote on our sheets to see if Jacqueline the maid was changing them. Sadly no. I hope she changed them from the last people that were in the room, I shudder to think of what the answer to that is.

  4. or come to Austin the land of unrelenting sunshine!!

    We got Vitamin D to spare ;)

  5. I just picked up a new multivitamin which has more vitamin D (and some other stuff that's good for me). I plan on taking it with some nut butter, as some of the vitamins are fat-soluble.

  6. I am so glad you two decided to head to a hotel, albeit a crappy one, so that we can keep on enjoying these posts!

    Well, I have lots to say on all you wrote but who wants to read my ramblings.... Oh, OK, short & sweet.. I love fall colors & miss them now here in southern CA. I grew up back east.

    nude blogging.... depends on who is nude!

    Vit D.. I am out in the sunshine here in CA! But you are right, it is important for those that do not get enough of it!

  7. I once stayed in London's Best Shithole with Chris though I'd made reservations at a Best Westurd. My ex was notorious for sniffing out the cheapest shitholes. He was successful finding a cheaper shithole after he left me.

    I'm not sure about staying in a shithole with a propane leak since you can't really tell the difference in smell.

    My photo is on the way. I hope you haven't eaten anything.

  8. You just enumerated every reason why I detest staying in motels. So nasty!

    I'm on a Vit D supp. It's supposed to help with depression, specifically the Seasonal Affective Depression I get every year. Don't know if it's helping but hey, I like expensive pee.

  9. I am not usually influenced by What Everyone Else Does, but a month ago I started taking vitamin D3. I can't say I've noticed any improvement in my immune system, but we can always hope.

    As a nudist, I assure you this is not the time of year for blogging outdoors, even clothed! Rain is so bad for computers.

    Glad you survived the propane alert, AND the motel!

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  10. i is confused.

    Always thought vitamin D was a fat-soluble vitamin, thus any excess was stored in your fat cells rather than excreted in urine.
    Did the clever people in clean white coats change this?

  11. Apart from the potential asphyxiation, sounds like a delightful trip. I have been trying to sneak in some sunshine but I have all that important indoor blogging to do...

  12. As my vacation begins this Thursday, I hope to have no interruptions! I am, however, very dejected to know that you will be doing your big-ass giveaway while I am actually away - no computer = no entries, boo!

  13. Upon moving from Virginia to Illinois we were desperate for a hotel and ended up in something like yours. It was shelter, and I kept telling myself others have been through worse and have survived. We slept in our clothes and shoes. I didn't even feel comfortable enough to shift. Ugh!

  14. A little sparse on the Vitamin D and naked pics around these parts.

  15. I'll take a rabid mama grizzly bear with cubs over skeezy hotel rooms. And that was a tough one to weigh. *shudders*

    You two are some brave souls. But the fall delights had to have been worth it.

    I think Vita D3 is too late for the senility, but I'm still taking 2,000 units a day. But I heard we really need 5K units...is that what you heard? Guess it's one of those things best left up to the doctor.

  16. I quite like your posts which talk about more than health news. But thanks to you, I've remembered to take my Vitamin D for today (I have a really hard time remembering to take pills unless they're curing something) along the big-ass Calcium tablet which made me choke. I'm a very bad pill-taker! I need the sunny climates.. sigh!

  17. I blogged recently about Vit D a few weeks ago. It's incredibly important.

    Put aside the (questionable) weight loss benefits of Vit. D and you still have its incredible importance for bone health (shout out to all those 40 and 50-ish women out there!) and the immune system.

    I found out that I was Vit. D deficient this year, after learning that I suffered from osteopenia (the pre-cursor to osteoporosis). At the time of the osteopenia diagnosis, NO ONE told me to take Vit. D, just calcium. It was not enough.

    I'm now taking 4,000 IU of Vit. D-3 every day and my Vit. D levels are normal. I'm looking forward to my next bone scan in January.

    Oh, and I haven't been sick in quite a while. I even managed to avoid a nasty cold that had my never-sick hubby down for the count as well as my two boys. I've now got them on 1,000 IU of Vit. D-3 per day.

    BTW, you've got to take D-3--it's the one that your body assimilates the best.

    Start taking it NOW!!

  18. Just got back from a week in Maine. I've never been to New England in the fall before! Amazing!

    My one complaint: my travelling companions were city folk who were literally-not-kidding *afraid* to go into the woods. Reason? Steven King is from Maine. (These are smart people. Some of them have post-graduate degrees. Sad.)

    So I saw a lot of amazing fall foliage from the safety of the car and/or windows of the lodge we were staying in.

    But the locals were also great. Oh, and the *seafood* ... well, I gained 5 pounds in one week!

    Walking it off . . .

  19. I'm commenting in the nude.

    No, really...

    1) Vitamin D: I actually got to sit through an hour conversation with a doc from the Dermatology department and one from Women's Health...they debated, AT LENGTH, whether or not post-menopausal women should use sunscreen. They compromised: sunscreen after the first 20 minutes in the sun. They did not rule on nude blogging.

    2) That young boy is entirely too young...and, um, boy-like. Where's the Italian soccer team blogging in the nude? I'll come see THAT!

    Glad you two didn't suffocate. That would have put a serious damper on the week.

  20. Pretty funny, Crabby!! Even though they call "C" the sunshine vitamin here a bouts, the big "D" is proving to be the important one, and I don't mean Dallas :-)

  21. I think I woulda just opened the windows on the RV, threw on a few more blankets and taken the chance vs. America's Best. *shudder*

    I'm with Beanie - where's the Italian Soccer team?

  22. So I guess you didn't have a tent, that you could relocate outdoors instead of having to seek out a hotel? I've stayed at some iffy places, but never that iffy!

    As a point of order wrt vitamin D, you will not eliminate much of the excess through urination. D is fat-soluble, not water soluble, and you can overdose on it. Supplement with caution.

    In the United States, milk has approximately 100 IU of D per cup and the RDA is 200 IU, so unless you're supplementing in other ways (sunshine, pills, other dietary sources, etc) you need two cups of milk per day to get your minimum of D. If you're not drinking that much D-fortified milk, look for an additional source.

  23. They are strongly considering changing the RDA of D to 800 for some, and 1000+ for older folks (that don't synthesize as effectively) and nursing moms.

    I suffered from a true D deficiency while nursing my youngest... felt like total crap!

    Now, I just supplement all the time. The supplementation rates for long-term accumulation of excess are over 2000/day (as I recall - look it up if you're worried).

  24. One site says you have to take more than 10,000 IU per day for quite a while to overdose, and I know one physician who routinely tells his patients to take 5,000 IU a day, so I'm not worrying about too much from my supplement, which is below that.

    Glad you are back and breathing healthy, Crabby!

  25. I almost spit out my soup I was eating when I read about the fabulous motel you stayed at! gross!!

    Glad you survived it!

  26. Hey,

    I stayed in an America's best this summer in Memphis we did have the added bonus of hookers pimps and drug users. LOL!!!

  27. "Perhaps sometime this winter, Cranky Fitness will sponsor a clothing-optional blogathon for Vitamin D awareness!"

    Nude-colored ribbon? Best tan lines contest?

    First step, just get your Vit D levels checked. You can sort out all your various supplement taking philosophies later.

  28. Glad you survived America's Best Shithole (and thanks for the heads-up on that..... in case I ever get to the States!)
    Must get my blood levels checked. Vit.D is for depression, isn't it?

  29. No apology necessary... vacations and trips are not about the rest of us, they are about you! Mind you, I was mightily entertained by the tale of America's Best Shithole.

    I guess I've had too much luck with cheap places I've stayed. I still remember the St. George in Santa Cruz before the Loma Prieta earthquake. Stayed there with a friend for like $17 a night. A cool place if you didn't mind the residential hotel ambiance.

    New England in fall is nifty! I went out once for a wedding in PA, but then ended by cruising and camping all over New England with mutual friends who'd also flown out. Good memories.

    Good reminder about the vitamin D! Heaven knows I need supplements during December/January. We rarely see ANY sun in those months. Think fogged in valley and COLD!

  30. could you not have simply removed the propane cylinder and left it outside the camper van to vent any fumes out there?

    Vitamin D also protects against swine flu (according to my MIL)


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