Thursday, April 14, 2011

Denver, part 1

It's been an eventful week. Seven days ago Nancy dropped me off at the Durango airport, and I flew to upstate New York to be with the family after the passing of my grandmother. I spent two days there, visiting with family. It was only sad and difficult because of my grandfather, Arnold, who was understandably having a very hard time coping. Although he was not receptive to conversation, I believe that it was meaningful to him for me to be there. I hope his is a wound that time can heal.

I flew back to Durango, and the next day we drove towards Denver. To avoid an epic drive we went about 2/3 of the way there, stopping in Buena Vista. To get that far Gigantor towed the Whale to her highest point: Wolf Creek pass at 10550 feet:

The plows were out up there, and dropping sand and salt on the road, too, so truck and trailer got dirtier than they've ever been in a year of travel.

We arrived at a campground in Buena Vista, a community nestled in the shadow of six peaks over 14000 feet:

The next day we drove the rest of the way to Denver, through a couple more mountain passes, stopping this time at Cherry Creek State Park, where I remain as of this writing. As in most state parks, the sites are large and well spaced, and surrounded by park lands. From our campsite it's hard to tell that this park is surrounded by Denver suburbs and sprawl. It's just right, with the Denver airport 1/2 hour away, and a half-dozen veterinarians nearby to choose from for Toby's knee surgery.

So just a few hours after setting up camp we climbed back into the truck and I dropped Nancy at the airport. She's home now until nearly the end of April, taking care of business. The next day I took Toby in for an appointment to confirm his torn ligament condition and schedule surgery for the following morning. While he was under the knife, I explored the park by bicycle. There must be 20 miles of trails here, half of which are paved, and all of which are dead flat. But any ride is a good ride, and I did get pretty close to a mule deer...

And enjoyed my first prairie dog sightings!

These cheeky little varmints have a colony in one corner of the park and the air was filled with their squeaky warning cries as I stopped to take some photographs.

I picked Toby up at the end of the day, pleased to find him alert and relatively comfortable. His leg is bundled up in thick bandages and supported with a plastic splint, so it is quite unwieldy. He struggles to find a comfortable position, particularly lying down. That first night we didn't get much sleep as he thrashed about and we both searched for some position that he could tolerate. It's a little better now, a day later, as he learns to cope with his giant useless appendage. Here he is back home post-op:

Our biggest challenge will be dealing with his frustration as his desire to run, jump and play increases. He's supposed to wear the splint for three weeks - the longest three weeks of his life, no doubt, and I fully expect that I, too, will be filled with great relief when his mobility is restored.

During the next two weeks, in addition to taking care of dogs' needs, I'll try to get up into the mountains for some skiing, visit Rocky Mountain National Park, and spend a few days over in the Fruita area riding their renowned mountain bike trail system.

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