Recovering

I don't have a deck of cards in my kit. There are times when I don't want electronics; I just want to handle real cards, maybe use them to play a little solitaire. They're also handy when there's no electricity or Internet because Spades or Hearts can be played with others.
I don’t have a deck of cards in my kit. There are times when I don’t want electronics; I just want to handle real cards, maybe use them to play a little solitaire. They’re also handy when there’s no electricity or Internet because Spades or Hearts can be played with others.

Although this posted Saturday morning about 0800, I wrote it Friday night about 1900 so my recollection of the day’s events, timing, and dialogue would not be lost.

It was Friday morning. The Girl and I had walked, not as far or hard as we have been. I felt like I needed a break to give my body time to heal a bit. We’ve been pushing the miles pretty hard, averaging a five-mile walk in the mornings and logging six miles or more every day for the last couple of weeks. We had both had breakfast.

I was just getting ready to start my monthly bookkeeping when my telephone rang. It was the dentist’s office manager. They had an opening and could get me in. “Do you want to come in this morning?” she asked.

It took me about two seconds to think. “Yes! Let’s get this done.”

So, at about 0900 the Girl and I scrambled into the 4Runner and headed south to Gardnerville. As I drove down there, I felt my fear and anxiety rise. I had a feeling this was not going to be an easy process. I was reminded of a favorite passage from the book The Golden Compass in which the girl asks her friend the armored bear “Aren’t you afraid?”

“No,” he replied, “but if I am, I will master my fear.”

I think my fear was more of the unknown nature of the process and not about pain. I knew the anesthetic would be effective in eliminating most, if not all pain. But I knew there would be a lot of pressure on my other teeth and my lips are always pinched between instruments and teeth. It doesn’t hurt badly, but there is a lot of it. (And that reminds me of the aphorism about being “nibbled to death by ducks.”) So, I took some deep breaths and reminded myself I could do this. It would be unpleasant for awhile, but then be over and the healing process would begin.

We got there about 0930 (it takes as long to drive through Minden as it does to drive from Carson City to Minden). I visited with the office manager for a minute and then they took me back to one of the stations. Many instruments were arrayed when I sat down. The assistant brought me a blanket for my legs (I get cold in there).

The dentist came into the room, looked over the images, and said “It’s time to get the healing process started.” He then administered the anesthetic and went on to work on another patient while the anesthetic took effect. He returned in a few minutes to administer the second phase of anesthetic and we talked about the bone graft he proposed. I asked a few questions and elected to have the bone added to the socket to protect the adjacent teeth and provide additional structural strength should I need it sometime in the future.

The process began about 1000, I think. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had. The tooth was brittle and there were four roots, all of which were “spindly.” I could tell from his energy that it was a difficult extraction. He used a drill to cut up the remaining structure of the tooth (the upper part was already removed), then extracted two roots. The other two required a lot of effort to gain purchase. He had to use the drill again to make catch points for the instruments to get purchase of them.

There was not much pain, but a lot of pulling and pressure to work out the roots without breaking them. They finally were all extracted and a followup image proved the socket was clear. So the technician mixed the demineralized cadaver bone with some liquid so it could be injected into the socket. That process was straightforward and completed quickly.

This was followed by some sutures, which were challenging only because the tooth was so far back in my mouth. He nicked me a couple of times when removing the suture needle. I could have said something, but I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. With the sutures in place, we were basically done. The technician worked up the temporary bridge (to protect the site), singing quietly to herself as she worked.

That was very pleasant. She has no idea how calming that was to me.

During most of the process, I was so deeply into myself that I was only aware of direction, my breathing, and tension in my body. I forced myself to face the anxiety and to relax my body when I felt the fear and tension rise.

Finally, everything was done. I was released to the main office. I received direction on care of my wound, follow up appointments, and a prescription for pain medication. I had a feeling that there would be plenty of aching when the anesthetic dissipated. I paid my (huge) bill and walked out to the 4Runner.

The Girl was ecstatic to see me. She sniffed me all over, but kept coming back to my mouth. She knew I was wounded and wanted to care for me. I got her out to pee and then we drove back to Carson City. We stopped at Walmart to fill my prescription and pick up a couple of things I thought I might want/need. I have salt to make a rinse. I have some Reese’s Cups to reward myself and some protein shakes to provide sustenance until I feel like I can eat again.

We drove the remainder of the way to the hotel. I could feel the pain rising and knew I’d better get my pain medication started. So, we parked and I carried my things to my room. I took a pill and decided to walk across the street to the Black Bear Diner in the casino. I wanted a strawberry shake and some time to let the remaining tension bleed out.

On the way out, I stopped by the front desk to extend my stay another week. The sutures will come out in about ten days. The clerk worked on it a bit, but they were booked solid on the 15th, so she told me “I’ll fix this. Someone will call and cancel — it happens every day.” So the Girl and I walked across Carson Street and into the casino.

A young man greeted us at Black Bear Diner. “How many?”

“One… and a half,” I replied.

“Would you like a booth or a table?”

“Either is fine, so long as she is out of traffic.” We started into the dining room. The manager followed us and caught up.

“When someone has a service dog,” she said to the young man, “let them pick where they want to sit. They know where the best place is for their dog.”

I pointed to a table along a partition wall that was out of traffic, “This will be perfect.”

A beautiful young woman came by shortly after I settled the Girl next to the wall. She was mi mesera and asked how I was doing. I elected to spare her the description of the ordeal [grin] and then ordered a glass of water and a strawberry shake. They make excellent shakes at Black Bear Diner.

The manager dropped by a few minutes later. “Thank you for being patient with us. He’s in training and is learning how to handle customers with service dogs.”

“No worries,” I said. “I have learned to ask for something different if I think the seat is not the best for us. Booths are usually good because she’ll sleep under the table. But tables are fine too so long as we are out of traffic.”

The strawberry shake was very good. The cold felt good in my mouth. I needed the calories (if not the sugar). I elected to take a second pain pill because my mouth was really starting to hurt and I wanted to get ahead of the pain.

As I worked through my shake, the medication began its work. The pain didn’t go away, but was reduced to something tolerable. I decided I didn’t want anything else to eat. I will get some eggs Saturday morning. So I paid my bill and we walked back to the room. I took care of a few things that needed doing before I crashed.

I put on some music. Then I laid on the bed with the Girl. She snuggled close, curled up against my tummy. We both fell asleep.

I woke a bit later, checked the time, and took another pain pill. The hydrocodone works pretty well to both dull the pain and make me rest.

I learned a lot Friday. Or at least I feel like I learned a lot. I knew it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience. I was determined to get it done anyway. I didn’t want the infection to worsen and make additional problems. I’ll figure out the money.

Oh, I got a call from my hotel. The figured out a way to keep me in my room for two weeks if I want it. I need at least a week, maybe more. That makes me happy.

The image is unrelated. While at Walmart, I decided to buy a deck of cards. I love the Steampunk motif. I want a deck of cards in my kit. I don’t want to play games on the computer. Sometimes solitaire is a good thing, with real cards. There could come a time when Spades or Hearts might be appropriate as well. And if I’m with a friend, there’s always Gin Rummy.

I really like these cards.

My Favorite Place

On the trail, and on the hunt.
On the trail, and on the hunt.

Last Saturday the Girl and I rose quite early to get out and hike (and geocache) before the heat rose. The story is already told, but a further rumination rose a few minutes ago. I suppose when the Muse calls me, I better answer.

I was scrolling through recent images collected and stored on my computer and came across this capture. It was made after our climb-out and while we were hiking along the ridge of the Prison Hill Range. This is a view of the Girl I see often when we’re out in the sageland. She runs back and forth, doing her favorite thing — hunting. She’s a high-drive dog and will chase rabbits, squirrels, and lizards. I know her well and have learned to manage her drive for the most part. I am still sometimes surprised, bu far less often than I was a few years ago.

This is something that is just part of her. I accept that and watch for those times when it might be a problem. I’m OK with that as well.

So we hike and hunt. It fills a need that she has and a need that I have. We both gain a lot from our time on the trail. In fact, there’s no other place I’d rather be (at this time) that out on the trail with my Girl. I have to watch the heat because she overheats easily. But if the weather is moderate, then we can go for hours.

Our normal morning walk is now five miles. If I push it and keep my pace at about 18 minutes/mile, I keep my metabolic rate up and it pushes her as well. We’re both tired (but maybe not done) when we get back to the rig.

On Saturday, we did a bit more than five miles with terrain. The climb-out challenged my legs and glutes and it was good. The descent challenged my quads and put some pressure on the patellar tendon, which was also good. We were both tired when we got back to the rig, went to breakfast, and returned to our room. That was good. Saturday was a really good day!

This morning we were out early again. It was cold down by the Carson River in Riverview Park. It was cold enough that my legs and hands were cold until the sun rose sufficiently to shine on me. With the cool air, I pushed pretty hard. The Girl had to run a few times to catch up. She’d be distracted by a scent, pause to sniff, and then notice I was 50 yards down the trail, calling and whistling to her to catch up.

And then catch up she would, blasting by me to pick up the next trail or chase a rabbit. We hiked out to the Morgan Mill Road river access. We took a five-minute break there so I could eat a snack and pee. She continued snuffling in the willow brush, then came over to beg some of my snack (no chocolate for her!). I offered a bite of apple, but she declined (with a snort).

After the short break, I donned my pack again and off we went, me jogging part of the way. I carried my walking stick a port-of-arms to practice. No, the stick isn’t a six-pound rifle, but it will do for practice.

We hit the rig before 0800 with just over five miles on the clock. It was time to get back to the room, feed her, and get a shower so I could get to my dentist for a procedure.

She was curled up in the back of the rig when I came out from the dentist’s office. I left with much to think about. The tooth I thought would be crowned will be extracted tomorrow. It’s cracked and cannot be salvaged. The price of the work just went up. I needed to think on this a bit more, consider the options, and make a decision about how to proceed.

We stopped at Wally-World to fill my prescription. I pondered on my decision while we wandered through the store waiting for my prescription to be filled. I bought a strawberry shake (or what passes for a shake) and a cup of coffee from McDs in the Walmart and sat down to enjoy the coffee. I bought a deck of regular playing cards to keep in my kit. I think that sometimes just sitting playing solitaire will be good for me. I like real cards.

After retrieving my meds, we headed for the room. It was good to feel the sun on my body and good to have the Girl curled up in the adjacent seatpan. I fiddled with her ears and stroked her side as we drove.

Yeah, I’d rather be out in the sagelands with my Girl than nearly anywhere else these days. Wife is gone, the kids are grown and independent, I work for myself. The capture of us on the trail together is idyllic, at least to me. Yeah, I challenge my body when we do those hikes. Yeah, I get tired, hot, sweaty. Yeah, I feel the mental game to push the body when it rebels. It’s a different form of training, not as intense as strength training but just as big of a mental game. Yeah, I’m going to get the dental work done (yet another mental game), then recover from it, both physically and mentally.

Then what? I’m not sure right now. I think there is work for me to do. I need to do some of it and replenish my savings account. I’m good with that… and with spending as much time as I can on the trail… with the Girl.

Tahoe Rumi

Last weekend, the Girl, a friend, and I hiked from NV 28 down to Chimney Cove and Secret Cove. This was captured by my friend.
Last weekend, the Girl, a friend, and I hiked from NV 28 down to Chimney Cove and Secret Cove. This was captured by my friend.

Last Sunday (yep, already nearly a week passed), the Girl, a friend, and I drove up to the parking area for a trail that drops from the highway down to Chimney Cove, Secret Cove, and beyond. We hiked down the trail, encountering a few sleepy campers and some not so sleepy early-risers like ourselves.

It was a gorgeous summer morning at Lake Tahoe, just cool enough to make me want a sweatshirt part of the way. When it warmed, I stuffed the sweatshirt into my pack. The Girl didn’t need water (plenty in Lake Tahoe), but I used my hydration bladder a bit to stay hydrated. The loop was about three and a half miles, which is nearly perfect for me.

What a fun hike and a great memory.

Handful of Change

This is what's left of the driver's window of my 4Runner.
This is what’s left of the driver’s window of my 4Runner.

Last Friday I had a service appointment for the 4Runner. When Older Son and I left the apartment together, he to walk me to the rig and head for work and me to head for the appointment, we discovered that someone had knocked out the driver’s side window with a rock. Older Son called the Denver police and I called my insurance company.

As I made arrangements to have the window replaced, I looked through the rig to determine what might be missing. A $600 radar detector was still in its mount. Nothing was taken from the center console. The back seemed to be intact. The best I can tell, the thieves took only a handful of pennies, nickels, and dimes from the bin in the center console. There were no quarters in that bin because I hold them for laundry.

Of course, I could not get the window replaced until this week (tomorrow, precisely). Therefore, I needed a secure place to stow my rig until the glass could be replaced. After clearing the glass from the seats, I headed for the Toyota House to have the service completed.

When I got there, Matt took my key to check my vehicle in. “I’ll tell you about what else I need when you get done.”

“You mean, like this busted window?”

“Yeah…”

So, Matt checked on availability of a glass from Toyota. There was not a replacement in the country. But, when I asked, he agreed to hold my vehicle for me until I can get the window replaced. So, although I do not have a vehicle, at least it’s secure. The window will be replaced tomorrow. Soon I’ll head out. I’m ready to be out of the city for awhile.

South Side Food and Drink, Limon, Colorado

While spending the night in Limon, Colorado, the hotel proprietor recommended South Side Food and Drink. It's a local watering hole.
While spending the night in Limon, Colorado, the hotel proprietor recommended South Side Food and Drink. It’s a local watering hole.

After checking into the Limon Motel, I asked the proprietor about food. He recommended South Side Food and Drink, which was a short walk from the hotel.

The Girl and I settled in, then walked down Main Street a few blocks in the cold wind for a bite. They had no issue with my service dog. A group of locals was playing cards at a table. Another group was seated at the bar, watching TV and chatting. The vibe was good, so we decided to stay.

The server came over and took my drink right away. She knew what they had on tap and the characteristics of those beers I did not know. I selected one and perused the menu while waiting.

The daily special was tacos. I chose the special and asked for chicken. They were decent, if not great, and a little salsa made them tasty enough that I enjoyed my supper. The Girl begged chicken from me, but I refused given she was working.

I love local watering holes, particularly those with a good vibe. This one had it.

Selfie, Hidden Valley Regional Park

I made this selfie while hiking in Hidden Valley Regional Park a few weeks ago. It seems like it was another lifetime, but it was only in March.
I made this selfie while hiking in Hidden Valley Regional Park a few weeks ago. It seems like it was another lifetime, but it was only in March.

One of my favorite places in the Reno/Sparks area is the Hidden Valley Regional Park. It is a gem of a place, with a fenced off-leash dog run, many trails on the flats, and many trails in the mountains east from the park. The Girl and I spent many mornings there, first in the dog park, but later (and better) hiking the mountain trails. Climbing up on those trails and tramping around, either along the ridge or side-hilling, was soul-feeding for me. The Girl didn’t care what we did, so long as she could range out, hunt, and play.

We had many good days in those mountains. Now we’re stuck in suburbia and our “trail” is a loop around the subdivision. We still walk it twice a day, but I long for open space, mountains, and a vista. I miss the mountains.

Larrabee Woodlot

I love the interplay of light, shadow, and texture in this capture from Larrabee State Park.
I love the interplay of light, shadow, and texture in this capture from Larrabee State Park.

Just as we stepped onto the trail off Chuckanut Road, I noticed this scene. The interplay of light, shadow, texture, and color caught my eye.

Flags and Moon

The flagstaff, flags, and moon outside the Red Lobster.
The flagstaff, flags, and moon outside the Red Lobster.

I met friends for supper at Red Lobster last night. While the Girl and I waited outside for a few minutes (after a nice walk around the perimeter of the property), I noticed the juxtaposition of the flags, mast, and moon in the darkening sky. So, I grabbed the capture.

The lesson, or at least one lesson, was to be aware. So many times I wander through this world too far in my head. I don’t let me eyes, and more specifically my mind, venture out from the inner space between my ears and take in this great big world. I finished Kennerly’s book a few days ago. One of his big themes was to look, because photographers have a different way of looking at the world. They see color, contrast, geometry, moment, composition, and a host of other small things that go into making a good capture, a good photograph.

That cannot happen when I’m in my head. I lose awareness of what’s going on about me and I lose connection with this world, God’s creation. I know I’ll drop into a reverie this morning when we walk. It’s part of the walking process for me. I like to think while the Girl and I are exercising.

But, I also like to interact with her while we’re exercising. She’s very interactive, when she’s not in Full Terrier Mode. We have a lot of fun interacting and the play time at the end of the walk is good for both of us.

A tired dog is a happy dog… And, I think, the same goes for an old man. But, even more than that, there is a time to spend in inner space and a time to be more aware of God’s creation — to take part in being in that creation, to be thankful for that gift. I’m learning.

Germany Valley

While hunting for an Earthcache, I was also on overwatch of Germany Valley in the Appalachian Mountains.
While hunting for an Earthcache, I was also on overwatch of Germany Valley in the Appalachian Mountains.

While searching for the answers to log an Earthcache, I was also overwatching Germany Valley in the Appalachian Mountains. I had driven down U.S. 220 from Keyser, West Virginia (and stopped to see President Lincoln’s mother’s cabin) and then turned west to cross the mountains, heading for Missouri to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws. I wanted to log a geocache in West Virginia and this one seem to be it.

It was a cold, snowy day at 3,300&nsbp; feet. The gray skies coupled with the leafless trees gave the scene a deep sense of bleakness. But, it was still a good day and I’m glad I stopped.

Routt National Forest

Columnar BasaltThe Girl and I left Denver on Friday, 3 July 2015 headed for western Nevada. I had some personal business there that needed my attention and I wanted to retrieve some things from my storage unit. Plus, it was just time for me to get out of Denver.

Older Son and DiL live on Capitol Hill in Denver. It’s a busy place and deep in the city. So, it has all the noise, commotion, and energy of a city. Although the place where Older Son and DiL live is fairly quiet, and the window A/C units we installed while I was there provided quite a bit of white noise, I could still feel that city-energy. After a couple of weeks, I just needed to be out of that.

I originally intended to stay in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. But I was unable to reserve lodging there so elected to go on a bit farther west and stayed in Craig, Colorado. Craig is not a small town at all; but it isn’t a city and the vibe there was calm, orderly, and a slower pace of life. But, I’m ahead of my story.

I left Denver and drove north on I-25 to Fort Collins, where I turned west on CO 14 — the Poudre Highway. Heading up into the foothills was quite busy as many folks were headed for the mountains (and I learned later, Steamboat Springs). Although I stopped for a couple of geocaches, I felt uncomfortable with all the traffic and eventually blew off searching for more hides. I elected to relax, enjoy the drive, and enjoy the river.

We stopped several times along the way to enjoy the warm mountain air (we also drove with the windows down and the A/C off), stretch legs, and make a capture or two. There was no reason to hurry as my mileage for the day was less than 300 miles.

When we arrived at Steamboat Springs, Jumping Jehosaphat! The town was crazy-busy with folks there for the 4th of July celebration. It was no wonder that no lodging was available. In any event, I was thankful that there was no lodging available as I would have simply traded the Denver energy for Steamboat energy. That would not have been a good thing.

So we drove on, thankfully.

About an hour later we arrived at Craig, Colorado. It was bustling, but the vibe was much calmer and my intuition told me that this was a good thing. Our motel was on the west side of town (missed it the first time), so we pulled in and walked into the office. The manager was there, remembered my telephone call, and checked me after consultation with an Asian woman (his wife?) about which unit would be best.

“That one too hot!” she exclaimed to two of his suggestions. “Put them in 18,” she said. So he did.

I backed into my parking spot so I could unload a few things from the 4Runner. I opened the door and looked around. The room was large, definitely old-school, and fine. I tossed the spread on the floor and brought in a few things. The Girl and I mounted back up (man it was hot) and drove to Walmart to reprovision for a couple of days. At the Walmart, we bumped into the manager who greeted us, “At Walmart already?” I laughed and bought a couple of salads, some fruit (bananas good!), and a six-pack of Coronas to celebrate our survival to date. Then we returned to our room.

I elected to boil a couple of eggs for my chef’s salad. It was my first use of the Pathfinder canteen stove I bought and my Trangia burner. I elected to sit outside my room because I was uncomfortable with the combustion products of the methylated spirits used in the Trangia. The wind gave me a little trouble and the simmer ring of the Trangia is, as the Brits say, “fiddly.” But I got my eggs boiled and learned a bit about using the stove and the process was relaxing (along with a Corona). The addition of the egg made the salad much better.

The Girl nibbled kibbles while I ate my salad and surfed the TV a bit. Yep… I still have little use for TV.

We rose early on the 4th and drove into town to find some food and coffee. We stopped at the local CoC and I found a self-guided tour of the area north of town in Routt National Forest. So we drove back to our motel, gathered up a few things to take along (camera, lenses, fruit, water) and headed out. Along the way, I found a big grassy area at the local middle school (out of session), so the Girl and I had a big play, refueled, and headed out on an adventure.

Once off the state highway, the route was all gravel road. We stopped to look for a couple of geocaches, but I lost phone signal and had not planned ahead, so there wasn’t much of that.

What there was, however, was a nice climb up to 5,000&endash;6,000 feet and the commensurate cooling. The sun was pretty, there was a little breeze, and the temperature was wonderful!

As we drove along, I noticed a bluff of columnar basalt. I stopped the 4Runner, got the Girl out, collected my camera, put on my boots, and we started up the hill. After just a few steps, a big mule deer jumped up, snorted at us, and bounced over the ridge. I didn’t have enough lens to capture him, but the capture is in my memory and will always be.

After a few minutes of hiking up the hill, I puttered around the bluff while the Girl did her thing. I have a few more captures that I still need to process.

The remainder of the drive was interesting, especially the Bear Ears (a pair of mountain tops). It was a good way to spend the Fourth of July — much better than hanging out in town. We were both tired and hungry when we got back to the motel. So, we ate, drank, and then cuddled before it was time to go to sleep. The fireworks bothered the Girl some and she stayed close to me. But she settled down after a bit and only stirred again for the finale.

It was a good day.