Why I Trek

As we begin the countdown to our fifth European trekking adventure, I felt it was time to share my story of just why I’ve become so obsessed with walking. I feel extremely fortunate to have recognized the proper trail that would lead me through troubled times.

You never know who you’ll meet walking along the trail!

The door opened and he extended his hand, introducing himself. “Hello, I’m Dr. J. I can’t believe you are still walking!” I shook his hand and glanced over at Reg in stunned silence.

As Reg shook the hand of the neurosurgeon who would ultimately save my life, I tried to prepare myself for what was to come. Six months earlier, I had noticed numbness in the ends of two fingers on my left hand, and I soon found myself shuffled between a series of appointments and doctors. Days earlier I’d had an MRI of my cervical spine and had been told it revealed a tumor. I was about to learn just exactly what that meant. I suspected the news would not be good.

It was November of 2011. Reg and I studied my MRI on Dr. J.’s computer while he explained that my tumor, a fairly rare intramedullary ependymoma we would eventually learn, was located within my spinal cord and had grown large enough to begin restricting the flow of spinal fluid. That was causing the numbness and tingling, along with a host of other symptoms that I would eventually piece together.

“You will need surgery, he said. “It is not without risk. We will take every precaution, but there is a chance you will be left quadriplegic. It is also possible that you will not survive the surgery…but if we do nothing, the tumor will kill you.”

Three and a half weeks later, two weeks before Christmas, I was prepped for surgery. There was really no other choice. Ratcheting up my powers of positive thinking, I put my life in Dr. J.’s hands. I did tell him, in all honesty, that if I couldn’t walk out of the hospital, not to bother waking me up. The next thing I remember, I was in a hospital room bed with Reg by my side.

As I slowly became aware of my surroundings, Dr. J. hurried in and began touching my fingers. “Move this one, now this one.” When I wiggled each finger, as ordered, he turned to Reg and announced, “She will be fine.” And off he went.

While the diagnosis was devastating, the recovery was absolutely traumatizing. Surgery had been pretty much a complete success, but I hurt every time I moved. Two days later, I was sent home. I could walk but I couldn’t feel my feet. Sheets and pants felt like sandpaper dragged across my bare legs. My rib cage felt as though it had been wrapped with an elastic band, and both hands were numb and tingling. I felt as though a spike had been pounded down alongside my neck, a neck that sported an angry, red six-inch scar. All part of the recovery process I was told. My nerves had been traumatized and needed time to recover…and so did I!

A year and a half later, in 2013, Reg and I trekked Spain’s Camino de Santiago together. It was a walk of discovery and gratitude for us both. We had our individual reasons for tackling such a challenging feat. For me, walking is something I will never again take for granted. Reg and I have continued to trek the trails of Europe where we find both a sense of adventure and contentment.

While I’m left with a few lingering side effects from the surgery, I’ve learned not to complain. Some (most) days are better than others. When so much could have gone wrong, I will forever be in debt to, and in awe of Dr. J.’s skills. To keep trekking is the best way I know of acknowledging how incredibly thankful I am that he was able to save my life.

And that is why I trek.

Categories: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Battery Point Lighthouse

We took advantage of what was, without a doubt, the most beautiful day we’ve ever experienced in Crescent City to explore the Battery Point Lighthouse. Built in 1856, it was the 10th lighthouse built on the west coast and one of 16 Cape Cod style lighthouses built in the 1800s.

Perched on a rocky island point, it’s accessible only at low tide. We scrambled across the rocks without getting our feet the least bit wet, and made the short climb to the top. Too early for a tour, we poked around the outside and tried to imagine what life must have been like for 19th century lighthouse keepers.

Some say this historic building is haunted. Surely it has stories to tell. If it looks familiar, perhaps you’re a Tim McGraw fan. According to Wikipedia:

…the music video for the Tim McGraw song “Not a Moment Too Soon” has scenes of Tim next to the light on the lighthouse’s top balcony and scenes of the Battery Point Light from a distance.

If you listen carefully, perhaps you’ll hear the music!

Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Packing up the Trailer

We recently spent 3 days camping with friends at Oregon’s Humbug Mountain State Park. In addition to the laughter and incredible meals, Reg and I took the opportunity to get a little uphill practice with our backpacks. We will soon be lacing up our boots for another trekking adventure, and Humbug Mountain is uphill all the way…a good check to see if we’ve still got what it takes! We were rewarded with a surprise view at the top where recently removed trees and brush had previously hidden the coastline.

We continued south, stopping to stretch our legs at the Gold Beach Harbor where Reg proved you’re never too old to enjoy a jet boat ride. I also snapped a photo of what’s left of the historic Mary D. Hume. She was built in 1881, working the Pacific for 97 years before eventually returning to live her life out not far from where she was originally built.

Harris Beach State Park has been our home for the last 3 days. Always a favorite, this time it was a real test for Reg as he expertly backed into what must be the most narrow site in the entire park. We’ll soon head home, packing up the trailer for the last time this summer. It’s always a little sad, but more adventure awaits!

Categories: Oregon Coast | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Crater Lake’s Garfield Peak

The rocking chairs on the back deck of the Crater Lake Lodge overlook the lake and provide an excellent spot to sip a beverage.

Garfield Peak was our destination today. There it is, looming in the distance behind the Crater Lake Lodge where we picked up the trailhead. The lodge sits at an elevation of 7,100 feet, that’s 1,000 feet above the surface of the lake and 1,000 feet below our goal.

As we unexpectedly huffed and puffed our way up, we finally had to accept that the altitude was getting the better of us. Refusing to admit defeat, we stopped for a short rest and devoured half of the lunch Reg packed. That seemed to do the trick as we reached the top without further incident.

The clouds are a nice contrast the the incredible blues of the sky and water.

After finishing what remained of our lunch, we headed back down the trail. The views were astounding!

When walking back down the trail, it’s always a surprise to see the views that remained hidden behind on the uphill climb.
Categories: Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Cape Disappointment Exceeds Expectations

We enjoyed a long hike through Cape Disappointment State Park two years ago, so despite the gloomy name, we were enthusiastic about our 3-night stay. Our campsite was the best, (site A-9 if you’re taking notes) lots of open space backing up to a long stretch of sandy beach.

It’s always fun to camp with friends, so we were thrilled when Pam and Jim took a few days from their trip north to stir up some trouble with us. As a recently installed, card carrying Elk, Pam was eager to check out the Long Beach Lodge, and we all tagged along, not wanting to miss the fun. I’m happy to report we all received a warm welcome and ice cold drinks!

Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

At Least We’re Not in a Tent

Drizzle and puddles greeted us at Washington’s Grayland Beach State Park.

We woke up this morning, our third at Grayland Beach State Park, to the sound of drips on our trailer roof. After the absolutely beautiful day we had yesterday, it was a surprising disappointment. But we agreed, “At least we’re not in a tent!”

Above are scenes from our outing yesterday to Ocean Shores, a touristy community situated on a finger of land between the Pacific Ocean and Grays Harbor. We had hoped for more sunshine today, but settled for a drive along a scenic route with the laundromat as our destination.

Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Our Night on a Riverboat

The Delta King is docked on the banks of the Sacramento River.

The historic Delta King, a 285-foot riverboat, offers landlubbers (like us) the chance to spend a night bobbing about on California’s Sacramento River. Reg was skeptical when I tossed the idea out to him, but the ratings were good and it was just one night…what did we have to lose?

Old Town Sacramento is home to the Delta King.

The Delta King was originally built in Glasgow, Scotland and in Stockton, California. It was christened in 1927 when it began a daily 10 1/2 hour voyage between San Francisco and Sacramento. What a trip that must have been. If you listen carefully, you might just hear the ghosts of days gone by…days of prohibition era drinking, gambling, jazz bands and fine dining.

We checked into one of the smaller rooms that could be described as “filled with character.” In reality, while small and a little rough around the edges, it was comfy enough and the lifeboats were right outside my door…just in case!

We discovered the full bar, complete with beautiful wood paneling and none of those pesky prohibition restrictions, at the bow of the boat. We settled ourselves at a table, enjoyed the view and chatted with a senior couple from Boston who were on an extended bus trip through the west. All in all, we loved the experience and would certainly recommend a stay on the Delta King.

Having been submerged in the San Francisco Bay for 15 months, restoration of the Delta King began in 1984 and lasted over a 5-year period.
We called it a night as watched the sun go down from the stern.
Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Driving the PCH

We chose the long way home after a visit with my Dad (for his 93rd birthday). Highway 1, California’s Pacific Coast Highway, stretches the length of the state and offers some of the most stunning coastal views you’ll find anywhere.  We drove the section from San Luis Obispo to Monterey, taking advantage of a few of the roadside stops along the way.

d55e75f8-b7e5-43a7-a1ea-543d48710d52

Even our liquor store deli sandwiches tasted gourmet with a view like this.

24dddae7-baa3-4d80-aa1c-734b566e6eae

Spectacular views come into focus around every bend of the Pacific Coast Highway.

9db06038-47a8-4511-b138-8dbe4c8da67d

When the views open up to the east, they are every bit as beautiful as the scenes across the Pacific.

5051AA85-8D5C-4778-BE50-1C7786AD3050.jpeg

It’s not easy to keep cars moving along this highway.  Roadwork continues along parts of the road.

fae59d55-6fce-4de1-8d68-f8611010aaeb

A trip to California is not complete without a drive up the iconic Pacific Coast Highway.

Categories: Road Trips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Thank You George Mahood

www.facebook.com/267303656684896/posts/2225309644217611

We were thrilled when author George Mahood posted an enthusiastic shout-out for Reg’s book – Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows on his Facebook page. You can read George’s kind words by clicking the above link.

George has published a handful of books himself, based on his own entertaining and often outrageous adventures. I hope you’ll check them out. Happy reading!

Categories: Camino de Santiago | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s a Grand Canyon

There was not a cloud in the sky today as we gazed over the rim of Grand Canyon.

It’s impossible to capture the vastness of the Grand Canyon with a simple photo. However, that has never stopped me from trying! Wandering the Rim Trail, we worked up an appetite and soon found refreshments in the El Tovar Hotel restaurant (be sure to ask for a table with a view). We wandered through the Hopi House (below right), built in 1904. The gift shop showcases Native American arts and crafts.

As we headed back to the parking lot, were reminded of our last trip to the Grand Canyon 13 years ago. Our sons were all well into their teenage years, and we wanted one last family adventure before they all headed off in different directions. The 2-day mule ride down to Phantom Ranch for the night, while not easy, remains a grand family memory.

We posed for a family photo on our 2006 mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Categories: Road Trips, U.S. National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: