Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

making the best of an awkward situation.
the Rail Trail in Park City hasn't been groomed the last couple of times i've been out skate skiing with the dogs, so we've been looking for other places to skate that are still dog-friendly.  Round Valley is awesome, and we went there yesterday.  today, i sought out yet another spot, that being the pipeline trail that parallels US Highway 40.  it looked good enough ~ kind of windblown, and more uphill than i wanted it to be, but it served the purpose, and had been groomed recently ~ good enough to get out for a while and stretch the legs.

Artie ~ hot dog on a stick
the views are always amazing in the Silver Summit area between Park City, I-80, and the Heber Valley.  yet another small snow storm was threatening, and filtering the sunlight nicely.  there are always some nice dog-friendly people up in that area, too; different from in the Salt Lake Valley where dog-friendlies and the unfriendly types clash.
the wind in Franklin's ear
so we skated up the groomed trail and i was just starting to get into a good rhythm when Artie, my independent thinker, saw the kite boarders in the large meadow by the Justice Center.  problem was, she didn't realize what separated her  from the kite boarders was a 4-lane divided highway.  surely she would have ended up dead had she not gone against her instinct and chosen to (thankfully) listen to my fretful screams.  i could tell it was very difficult for her, and she wasn't rationalizing (unlike my boy Frank, whom i anthropomorphize often into a rational being who typically chooses the safer route, often going against his dog-instinct and instead siding with his human).  but after two attempts to call Artie back, mid-sprint to the fence that is only one foot high from the recent drifting snow (she could have easily cleared it) thankfully, crisis was averted.

we spent the rest of the 5-mile skate ski with Artie attached to the end of my ski pole, but i was kind of tired anyway and didn't feel like skating all that fast.  she even helped to pull me up a couple of the steeper hills.  necessity is the mother of invention.  and in this case with only an 18 inch leash, the ski pole became Artie's tether enabling us all to enjoy another adventure.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stellar Sunday on the Shoreline

this is one of the many reasons i love Salt Lake City ~ Sundays of the Shoreline.  i was in Tonopah, Nevada, the high west desert as i like to call it, for the better part of 4 months.  the time actually went by pretty quickly and although i was lucky enough to be able to come home to Salt Lake on most weekends (and spent some time in Bishop, California as well) it feels really good to be firmly planted at home.

after a snowstorm that lasted all of last night and the better part of the day today, the Wasatch Mountains were bedecked with two and a half feet of new snow.  most of my friends were thinking that i would have been out skiing and enjoying that snow, but i had other designs on the day.  first off:  World Cup Skiing.  it's the World Championships in my other heimat (click here for an explanation of the term heimat).  i spent a year in the same region learning German, teaching skiing and hiking the trails about fifteen years ago.  hard to believe it was that long ago. 

Garmisch Parten- kirchen (or GAP as it is known) is a quaint little Bavarian town near where my dad grew up in the German Alps and we still have really good friends there.  friends whom i would really consider my cousins, because my mom and dad's friends have really been like an aunt and uncle to me, and their three kids, about the same age, used to show me and my brother around when we were kids and visited in the summer time.

so i spent the morning today watching the World Champion- ships and remember- ing the feeling of skiing that hill.  i used to ski the same course at the close of the day with a couple of my friends when i was there, and we would ski as fast as we could.  i'm sure it took 5 or 6 minutes at our top speed to get to the bottom (the winners today skied it in less than two minutes).  as the racers went over the jumps and around the turns today, with the view of the beautiful valley and village below, i felt as if i was there with them.

after watching the Women's Downhill and wishing i was in Germany, i tanked up on french toast and coffee and hit the Shoreline with the dogs.  it was a glorious day.  it had stopped snowing, but everything was covered fresh and clean with a powdery white blanket and the sun was brilliant.  there were some storm clouds off to the west, which helped to filter the sunlight, and a few stray snowflakes would sparkle through the air every once in a while.  it all just seemed too perfect.

i'm looking forward to the next couple of months off from work and more magical days in these mountains in my backyard.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Great Skate

today Dave and i hit the Black Sheep Espresso Shop, then the Great Basin Bakery to load up for some serious skate skiing.  i actually drank quite a bit of nuun on the drive up to the trailhead by Tom's Place off of 395 north of Bishop, CA.  i just wanted to get some fresh air and get the dogs out for a romp ~ Dave wanted to get at least 2 hours in for a race he is training for from Tahoe to Truckee in a couple of weeks.

the temps were between 40 and 50 degrees, the sun was shining, and the conditions were great.  we skated for about 2 and a half hours, starting around 8,000 ft of elevation and skiing up to about 10,200.  i seriously think i must have about 100 "top ten days" in the outdoors, and this was one of them. 

what a great skate.  Dave and i hit the Smokehouse meat store for sandwiches afterwards.  then, i went into the grocery store to get a coffee for the drive back to Tonopah, and came out to find Artemis chowing down on the half-sandwich i had saved for dinner tonight.  back to the Smokehouse...  and i got another sandwich.  we burned a lot of calories today~

photo essay below tells the full story:  this is one thing about Tonopah that i will miss... going to Bishop!  now i understand what all the fuss is about.  it's a great little town.
Artemis gets after it.


me and the dogs ~

Nearing the top ~ thanks to Robert Earl Keen for the tunes to keep me cranking.

Bashful Dave gets his photo snapped.

Ever the lookout ~ Artemis.

successful timer shot ~

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fireworks in T-pah

Me and Artemis, with Dave's shadow.
Fireworks:  no, not the 4th of July kind.  rather, the work-environment kind that had me thinking how grateful i am that i am a Locums/Travel provider and not involved in the administrative bullsh*t that goes on in the hospital/medical environment.  after just four more work days, my 15-week contract will come to a close.  done. finished.  moving on...  there were some fireworks here in Tonopah this week.  they were the kind that made you want to head for the hills or crawl into a hole and wait out the aftermath until the dust had settled.  when big things happen in small towns, it seems to have an even larger ripple effect.  there isn't the density of a large city to absorb the shock waves.  there are very few places to go and hide, and you feel visible to everyone.  you may find yourself the one that others look to, to be part of the glue that holds things together in an attempt to find a solution.

i'm going to stay vague about what actually happened this week, and thank God it didn't happen to me directly; although i had that feeling in the pit of my stomach that i knew exactly how the people involved in it really felt, because i've been in their shoes before.  it's not a good place to be.  i did feel what was happening around me, but i was thankful that i was able to step away... and hopefully things will stay that way.  hopefully i will remain on the periphery of an undesirable situation that i hope will not get worse.

Dave and Frank hike out from the Druid stones above Bishop, CA.

over the past few weeks, i've learned so much about how i work as a Nurse Practitioner.  i'm very grateful to everything (and everyone), good and bad, that has happened to me and around me out her in the high west desert of Nevada.  i've learned that i really do love Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care.  i've learned that i'd rather not have anything to do with Internal Medicine, but that in a pinch, if i just take a deep breath and count to ten, and call on my amazing doctor, nurse and Nurse Practitioner friends as resources (and yes, i count my medical assistants in that mix as well), i can muddle through just about any situation.   i've learned that my heart still lies with Orthopedics:  broken?  put it back together, give it time to heal, and there you go... fixed (like magic, except that you don't even have to wave a magic wand over it.  so satisfying).

Dave looks small next to the big Druid stones.
i've also learned that no matter where you go, big city or small town, there's always a population that will try to manipulate you and try to convince you that you work for them (as opposed to with them) and that they are entitled to your "help" at any time, day or night, in any situation, and that they really do need a lot of hand-holding to get through life in general, not just their current medical crisis.  if something gets messed up along the way (like they don't have a ride home from the hospital... because they called an ambulance to get a ride... because they don't own a car... ) it becomes your problem to solve.  not theirs.  the sheriff's department has been very helpful to me in solving such situations. 

i've also learned that no matter where you go, big city or small town, there is a core group of people who will support you no matter what.  if you need help, they will be there for you.  the "shirt off their back" kind of people, the salt of the Earth.  the type of people who you wish you could have more minutes in the day to be around, because they are so intelligent and so inspiring.  the kind of people that no matter how rough of a day you are having, they tell you how sensational you are and that YOU have made this place and this experience what it is today ~ successful.  those kind of people make me fell as though i don't deserve the praise.  that i could work a little harder and a little smarter to earn their kind words.  those are the kind of people that make me want to go back to them.  the kind of people that if i am away, i will come back to them because THEY are the ones that make this place what it is today ~ successful.

Frank & Artie enjoying the accommodations at the Vagabond in Bishop, CA

as i travel the country, as i sit here in a motel room in Bishop, after a great hike with a friend and dogs and after eating amazing Thai food and drinking beers...  i think of how fortunate i am to be around such great people, when there are so many really not great people in this world.  i think of who is looking out for me and wonder why they picked me to look out for.  and it makes me just want to say, "hey.  i'd do the same for you, you know."

but i think they know that already.


Friday, February 4, 2011

step it up in Bishop

accidental shutter snap ~
on Wednesday, after a night of interrupted sleep because i was on-call for the hospital (and yes, i did get a call to come in at 1am...  but i'm not going to dwell... sometimes people need a little hand-holding in the middle of the night) i went to Bishop for a skate ski with the dogs.  actually, i drove through Benton Crossing by the Green Church to Mammoth and as i was looking up at some particularly spiky peaks, i thought to myself, "those look like the Minarets." and indeed, yes, once i got to town and started seeing things like, The Minaret Cafe, the Minaret shopping plaza, etc. i determined that those were the Minarets but i had just never seen them from the East, only from the West when i was in Lake Basin several years ago on a backpacking trip, and never realized just how close to Mammoth i had been at the time.

but back to my story:  i was in Mammoth on Wednesday for a skate ski with the dogs, and went to the Ranger Station/Visitor Center as instructed by my friend who is now a "local" in Bishop and knows the skate ski scene well, and was remiss to find out that the "welcome" person at her post was very fond of informing me that "dogs must remain on-leash in all Forest Service managed areas and on groomed winter trails."  she went on to add, "oh, and you have to pick up their poop."  (she said that about three times.  yeah, lady, i get it.  thanks.)

Hrrrumph!  well, i called my friend back and told him what the "welcome" lady had said, and he said, no just head to the end of the road in that area, park the car, and there is a groomed snowmobile road outside of the actual designated nordic area and people take their dogs off-leash there all the time.

oh, Artemis!
i saw a local lady with a couple of dogs and asked her, "so is this cool?  if the dogs are running off-leash here?  it's kinda hard to skate with the two of them on leashes." (and in fact, i only had a couple of short pieces of webbing because i hadn't planned on having the dogs on-leash at all).  and she confirmed that yes, it was actually not frowned upon.

i ran into so many people walking their dogs, or just strolling without dogs, who greeted my dogs with open arms.   we even saw a couple of Forest Service sleds and the rangers didn't stop to bitch me out for letting my dogs roam free (i held on to their collars as the snowmobiles went past, just in case the dogs thought it might be a good idea to dart out in front and cause a curfuffle... )

squeeky skate ~ with my warm pants on, because it was chilly.
i had the post-call hangover going on, and the skate seemed extra hard due to the fact that i had warm/wet wax on my skis and not cold/old wax, but we had a great time stepping through the woods despite that fact.

i drove through Bishop on the way back to Tonopah and stopped at the hospital to visit my friend who was on the evening shift and give him a latté.  it was a great day, and i'm glad i motivated to get out of Tonopah for the day.  the dogs and i definitely stepped it up.