July 29, 2009

A vacation story (not for the faint of heart)

Everyone is asking how our vacation was, so I need to write this before I can accomplish much else, since retelling the story is making me feel overwhelmed. ;)

We left Phoenix on Sunday afternoon, leaving behind our daughter Beth, 19, who had a sore throat. The first day went off without a hitch. We arrived in Cortez, Colorado around midnight and checked into a local motel and collapsed. The next morning we drove up to Telluride area to find a camping spot, but after cruising through all known camp grounds and driving through the bumper to bumper, crowds of people everywhere town of Telluride, we decided to drive around the mountains and go to our dearly loved area near Silverton. It took a while so we didn't arrive at South Mineral Creek campground until late afternoon. Thankfully they had one spot open, someone had left early and we grabbed it. After setting up tent and stashing cooking utensils and camping supplies in convenient places we decided to go on a drive from the campground up to Crystal Lake. It is a 4 wheel drive only road and ends up at a beautiful natural lake above tree line at about 12,000 feet elevation, filled with only snow melt. It was beautiful. But we only stayed a few minutes because Charles had started feeling a little altitude sickness setting in.

When we got back to camp it was getting worse and he could not catch his breath. He went to talk to the camp host and I walked up while they were in mid conversation. As I walked up I heard, "...well if you're having chest pains too, I think you should get that checked out." I'm like, CHEST PAINS? I thought he was only short of breath. The host called in to Silverton EMTs who told us to come in and get checked out by paramedics. We all jumped in the car and headed to Silverton as the sun went down and it became dark. A police car met us there and escorted us to the fire station where their EMT staff was waiting for us. He was still short of breath and hurting. (he did not think it was his heart, but his lungs, worried it was a blood clot) They did not take chances, though the readings were normal, so they said they needed to drive him to Durango in the ambulance.

Sounds simple, but the only way from Silverton to Durango is a windy mountain road, often edged with a sheer drop off on one side and a mountain on the other for almost 60 miles. The ambulance driver was so concerned about ME driving behind him that he went about 30 miles an hour the whole way, keeping me right behind him so no animals would jump out in front of me. And they did! Deer were all over the place, just running out in front of the ambulance and dashing off the side of the road. I think it happened 8 or 9 times, along with other animals doing the extreme road crossings in the middle of the night.

Finally reaching Durango hospital, it took about 20 minutes for them to decide that it was indeed altitude sickness and partly a panic attack due to not being able to breathe. The doc said that the only way to get acclimated was to spend a couple of nights sleeping in the high country to regulate your body to the altitude. Thanking the Lord that is was only altitude and not anything to worry about, we headed out to the car, only to find a totally flat tire. We stood there, mouths open, eyes staring unbelieving at the tire. Emma gave way into sobs after the traumatic time thinking her dad was possibly seriously ill. Charles went to work digging out the jack to change the tire. A jack in the car....so smart. Eh, only smart if you have a handle with which to work the jack. He went into the ER again to ask if anyone had a jack. The lady who was the receptionist handed Charles her keys and told him to take her car and get what he needed at a 24 hour Walmart down the street. One trip to Walmart, a jack, a tire pump, and a can of fix-a-flat later and we were on our way, profusely thanking the wonderful receptionist who fully trusted us and blessed us with her generousity.

By now it was 1:30am. As we drove through Durango there were no motels that seemed to have any vacancies. I did NOT want to drive up that mountain road again, so we finally found a dingy old motel (the kind you can actually live in) and fell into bed in our clothes. We had left everything at the campground. But it was good to sleep.

The next morning we called home to find out Beth had gone to urgent care and that she had a pretty bad case of strepp throat. ehn She managed to get to the doctor then to the pharmacy herself and then collapsed at home, very sick and very sad. It was like a huge swirling end to a nightmare of running and not getting anywhere. But she said she was fine and we decided since she already had the medicine and was able to stay home and rest, we should continue our vacation in search of relaxation. And by the time we got home on Saturday, she was able to be back at work and was gone constantly with her friends running around having fun. So I think we made the right decision, even though it was a hard few days for her!

After getting our tire fixed for $15 and retrieving our camping set up from Silverton, we found a very nice, lower campground on the east side of Durango by Lemon reservoir called Florida campground. Very nice, camped by a rushing stream, Maggie found a very good friend to play with and we stayed there the rest of the trip. We took 4 wheel drive only trips on mountain roads and read, had campfires and took walks the rest of the time and the first 2 days of the trip seemed like a surreal, distant memory. The patched tire held up, as good as new, even on the rough mountains roads we took.

We are thinking there are probably a lot of lessons to be learned, character to be gained from such experiences, but we are still learning what they might be. We still have no idea why all of this happened or what we've gained, but we are thankful that God took care of us in each little thing....even driving down the mountain with a leaking tire! And we're also thankful for the people He put in our path to help us. The kids had good attitudes and were true troopers, working hard to set up our camp, take down and set up again and not freak out on us.

Mostly I think we are all thankful to be home again. ;)

Slide show of the trip to follow.


mmichele said...

That's a little more adventure than one would normally want in the mountains.

joannmski said...

Girl! After that story, I need a nap.

KQ said...


Tarasview said...

yikes....not exactly the definition of vacation was it ?!