This Whole Town Is High

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Jan 25, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Friday, June 10, 2011

8-14 June

As mentioned earlier, we returned to Blacksburg in late May so that Mark could undergo surgery to repair an increasingly painful and limiting shoulder injury.  We were back at the hospital just two weeks after his hernia repair and ended up with the same post op nurse from the last procedure.  Mark was a tad less chipper after exiting the OR this time.  Shoulder surgery is exceptionally painful and a long delay in getting into surgery, plus a back up in the pre-op room led Mark to waive the Nerve Block most patients get to minimize the agony immediately afterward.  It's essentially an epidural for your shoulder that lasts for 24 hours.  And, may also cause permanent nerve damage or lead to a punctured lung.  Sounds great, doesn't it?  Mark didn't take the nerve block and was clearly in pain.  No waving off the Percocet this time around.  (Although he only took it for two days.)

The issues were relatively minor, or at least the repair work was.  Too much arthritis in his shoulder meant they couldn't reattach the torn labrum.  This is both good news and bad news.  Bad that he will likely need a new shoulder in his lifetime.  Good that he would have a much shorter recovery time.  4-6 weeks versus 4-6 months.  Things were looking good for our plans to cycle through Europe.  Of course, that means I need a crash course in PT techniques to provided some limited therapy once we got on the road again.

We headed out for Estes Park, Colorado in the mid-afternoon on June 8.  I had just returned from a great trip to Seattle/DuPont, Washington to visit two of my brothers and a sister-in-law.  I was back just long enough to do a load of laundry and repack my travel bin.  (Love those things.)  We picked up the van after getting 4 new tires, stocked up at Kroger and were on our way.  It's 24 hours of driving to Colorado, and I think 23 of those hours are in Kansas.

We stopped the first night on a National Forest Road outside Leavenworth, IN.  It was a great spot.  Only 30-40 trucks with young rednecks drove by that evening.  (Kidding.  There were a handful of them, though.)  We stopped into Stephenson's General Store for some eggs and a little down-home religion.  The new owners felt God had directed them to purchase the place with Mrs. Stephenson passed away.  Hopefully, they were getting by on lots of prayers, because their prices were so inexpensive that I wasn't sure how they stayed in business.  Good for them.

We drove through Kansas, stopping at Wilson State Park to camp for the night.  It's only 8 miles off the interstate, but a wonderful respite from hours and hours and hours on I-70.  It sits on a lake and is a lovely place to take a break after nearly 12 hours of driving.

On to Estes Park, getting caught in just a little bit of traffic outside Denver and moving through Boulder.  We were meeting Mark's brother, Mike and his family.  Mike was going to run his first marathon at Estes Park.  Average race elevation -- 7,700 feet. Good think this guy is from Colorado Springs.

We arrived at our cabin in the YMCA of the Rockies resort area.  This place was sprawling and backed up to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Since we arrived before Mike and his family, we decided to go for a run to shake off the last 3 days in the car.  BAD IDEA.  The YMCA resort was at 8,100 ft, on the side of a mountain.  Mark took off easily, but I quickly felt a vice tightening on my head.  Maybe it wasn't such a great plan to go from 3,000 ft that morning to 8,100 ft and then immediately head out for a run.  Ugh.   I walked instead, which helped.  A bit.  We were able to cross into the National Park and hike up Emerald Mtn, where we read a really heart wrenching letter left in the summit log.  That very day.  I hope the poor guy didn't come up there to jump.  Broken hearts hurt.

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