Wednesday, July 9, 2008

More time in the mountains - July 9

Today we got to do a bit of backcountry driving. This past spring we joined the evil forces of the world and bought an SUV. We picked up a 2000 Toyota 4Runner Limited. The 4Runner’s have the best record in terms of durability and low maintenance. Hey, it’s a Toyota…

We got the 4Runner to pull our pop-up camper as well as for the 4 wheel drive option in winter time. I was also hoping it would give me access to more trailheads that are several miles down dirt roads. Well, after a short morning walk at Snow Mountain Ranch, we decided to follow a dirt road we had seen the day before. It is called Blue Ridge Rd and heads out the back of Snow Mountain Ranch and up a mountain I can only guess is called Blue Ridge. It started off easy enough, but soon enough we were navigating rocks I would never attempt in our Honda Accord. All told, we drove ten miles to the top and felt like we put the car through at least a moderate workout. The view was good but the journey was better. Oddly enough, our daughter slept the whole way. The bumps which kept the adults on edge lulled her to sleep.

During the 20+ mile round trip, we didn’t see another car or person. Definitely off the beaten path.

More time in the mountains - July 7

I’m off in the mountains for a few more days. This past spring we purchased a pop-up camper. If you have not seen one, they are quite clever. They close up as something long and flat that is rather modest to tow. Then the roof cranks up, the ends pop out, and a kitchen, table and chairs get set up inside. It is a camper that is covered mostly in canvas and plastic windows but also has heat, a sink, indoor and outdoor stovetop burners, a refrigerator, electricity, lights, 3 beds, and lots of storage. It has many of the amenities of RVs but feels more like camping as you can open all of the windows and have 360 degree views. For my wife, myself, and our two year old, it fits the bill and makes camping just the right mix of comfort and enjoying the mountains.

We’ve headed off to Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA camp near Winter Park on July 6. My inlaws have joined us although they are staying in a lodge room. We awoke to 2 hours of rain this morning and the constant patter of drops on canvas. My daughter and I had a long talk about what was making the sound of rain. I tried to tell her how it is like a shower (like the one in our bathroom) but that the whole sky is taking a shower. I’m not sure she understood. Tomorrow we’ll work on the expression “its raining cats and dogs”.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

RMNP - Residency - a piercing finish

My residency came to a pointed end. Last Friday night I thought I better get a jump on cleaning the kitchen as I would depart by noon on Saturday. So I filled up a sink with soapy water and put in a load of dirty dishes. While cleaning them, I suddenly realized a glass had a big chip in the side, then I noticed my right hand pinkie was covered in blood. The glass chipped and I had cut myself without noticing.

I rinsed off the wound and tried to cover it with some paper towel. Boy did it bleed and bleed. The cut was an inch and a half long and went right over the knuckle.

OK, no more bloody details. I finally got it wrapped with some stuff from first aid and it stopped bleeding. Right then I should have thought to get it checked out. Instead I thought it was my last night and I really wanted to watch the last of the light disappear from the valley while sitting on the porch. It should clot up pretty well over night and all would be fine.

In the morning I noticed it was hurting quite a bit. I still decided to not bother the doctors (or to not let the doctors bother me) and proceeded to pack up my stuff and set the cabin right for the next artist. The finger slowed me down but by around 12:30PM I had my stuff packed up. At that time I changed the dressing and realized it hadn’t clotted up at all.

Now I finally made the decision to have the finger checked out. However, my original plans were to take an afternoon hike before meeting someone at the Rocky Ridge Music Center at 4PM. It seemed silly to miss the hike and surely my little cut could be treated quickly on my way to Rocky Ridge. So I took a hike to Lake Haiwaia that was absolutely stunning. This wonderful lake is less popular than Emerald yet it is bigger and surrounded by giant craggy rocks. It was a big destination for folks who love bouldering. I got back to the car by 2:45PM and thought I could still make my 4PM.

Being a Saturday afternoon, I ended up in the ER. Everyone was nice but I had to tell at least 4 different people how I had stupidly cut my finger doing dishes. David Ludwig would later suggest I tell everyone it had been a bear attack (he said I could add while doing dishes if I insisted on honesty).

Apparently I should have gone to the doctor right away as you can not use stitches on a wound older than 12 hours. The chance of infection jumps at that time. So they cleaned me up and put on some strips that act like stitches. They put the whole thing in a splint which I need to wear for several days.

The worst part was that I couldn’t tell them when I last had a tetanus shot, so they fixed me right up with a nice tetanus shot. That sill hurts a few days later.

I missed the 4PM but asked David Ludwig to cover my meeting. I definitely got sympathy from my wife who brought me Mexican for dinner (not her favorite food).