Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dog canyon trail

Well, it seems like this blog is turning into a "hiking diary" for now, but I guess that's what I'm doing most of. I have a list of other places to visit and things to do here in Southern New Mexico but have a hard time even leaving this immediate area on my days off, it is just too pretty and there's just too much to do.
One of these weeks I'll make it to Silver City, Carlsbad caverns, Rosswell and Las Cruces.... ;-).

But for today it was Dog Canyon, about 20 minutes from here. Lower in elevation than many of my previous hikes, so much hotter unfortunately and totally different vegetation; The true South Western landscape which reminded me of hikes around Phoenix and Tucson. It was hard work but the lower altitude made it so that I wasn't gasping for every next breath....

More beauty on Dog Canyon trail....

White sands at daytime...

I made it!!! I've wanted to hike the 4.7 mile loop at White Sands ever since I saw it on the full moon night. I did try last week mid afternoon but aborted my attempt pretty soon after realizing it was just too hot. No water anywhere, no shade anywhere.
So I went Monday morning (my Saturday), after my weekly Skype session with my parents. It was worth the wait. Nobody there, no cars, no people, just the ranger letting me in at the front entrance. I felt like I was trekking across the Sahara desert, through the wide open spaces.....

I'm determined to camp there one night to see the sunrise early morning..... Maybe next weekend??

more of White Sands at daytime...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Some work stuff....

What a boring title: work stuff....
I am actually quite enjoying work. I'm trying to find out what exactly it is I'm enjoying about it and this is what I could come up with:
1- It is quite low key. Although I haven't done adult care in more than 15 years, it has been an easy transition. Although people work very hard, the pace is slower in comparison to SLCH so I can take the time to figure things out (whether it's how to page a certain nurse taking care of my patient or where to find that extra wide wheelchair that fits an O2 tank).
2- The therapy staff is great. Besides me there are 3 other PT's, one OT and 2 aids (or tech's as they call them here). A healthy balance of 3 males and 3 females. All therapists have similar interests; outdoor life, travel, running, hiking, .... besides more obvious family and children's stuff.
3- I also think I somehow needed a break from Pediatrics after more than 15 years. Working with children is clinically challenging, very rewarding and fun but it's also a lot of pressure; Pressure from parents and management but even more from myself to do everything humanly possible just perfect..... You just do (and should do!!!!). Over the years that adds up to quite a bit of pressure and stress. Not that when I'm working with adults and elderly I don't try to give great care but somehow it is different, I have no better way to explain it....
4- I have been so very pleasantly surprised about how kind and grateful my patients, mostly elderly, tend to be. I often thought of grumpy old people and was expecting people's refusal to get out of bed, complaints about life and the care they are receiving at the hospital, ... but instead I'm so pleasantly surprised by their willingness to participate, their gratefulness for little gestures and time spent, their interest in me and their openness to share their life experiences with me.
I got a huge kick out of a 94 year old woman in the ICU today. She fractured her hip and had ortho-surgery to fix it. Tough as can be, she just got out of bed and walked a fair distance, all while ranting on about the upcoming presidential debate tonight, about "that woman' (meaning Palin)'s ignorance, and about her absentee ballot, she'd already casted. I just loved it! She might only be 5 feet (if that?!), but what a spirit!

This being said, I think the most important factor of me enjoying my time here, both at work and outside, is that I'm ready to be here, ready to experience life in the south west, ready and open to new experiences, whatever they might be, however they might develop. I'm confident my 12 weeks here will continue to work out well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Other finds" along the trails......

Beauty on the trails....

Hiking in the Ruidoso Mountains

Ruidoso is a mountain town about 60 miles North East from here. It's a ski-resort in the winter and a retreat for wealthy texans in the summer. It has beautiful hiking with so many trails I would only be able to scrape the surface even if I would hike there every free day during my 13 week assignment here.
Yesterday I hiked Mills Canyon and dry Mills trail. Lots of up and downs with the "summit" at 9550 feet. It took me a solid 6 hours with little or no rest breaks. The not-doing-a-whole-lot-of-physical-activities-in-the-past-two-months and the altitude definitely played a role in making it really challenging. My quads are still burning today.... The views were worth every rapid heartbeat and the buckets of sweat.....


The OT at the hospital had a little party at her house last Saturday. Not one to want to miss out on anything (especially food and drinks and company), I went. It was quite amazing.... In this little community in the New Mexican desert, there were 7 different nationalities!!! Italian, German, Mexican, Bulgarian, Finnish, Belgian ( ;-) ) and obviously American. I thought that was quite amazing. It definitely made me feel at home!!
At work Sunday, I met this no-nonsense floor secretary; Turns out she was from Norfolk, England. With a thick English accent and the attitude to go with it, she explained to me she really does not like Alamogordo except for the weather. She than started going through a list of things about Americans she didn't like. I'm all for straight forward interactions, but her bluntness almost made me feel uncomfortable. She was funny though I have to admit...

Friday, September 19, 2008

More of White Sands National Park at full moon night

Full moon at White Sands National Park

Earlier this week was full moon night. Every time this happens, White Sands National park runs an evening program for the public: Right in the middle of the park, they had set up a little trailer -fully solar powered- and had a speaker talk about the park, preservation of nature and the dangers of too much human interference.
It was very beautiful, the wide landscape went on for miles and miles and the moon was so bright, you could almost read a book. It was also absolutely freezing, the desert definitely gets very cold at night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My apartment

This is the link to the apartment complex I am staying....


At work...

I just finished my first 2 days on the job and here are some interesting thoughts:

1- My commute is less than 10 minutes door to door. There is NO traffic. The closest 'traffic jam' I've experienced so far has been 3 cars waiting to turn left at a stop sign to get to what is believed to be the cheapest gas station in town. I follow "Scenic Drive" to get to work, east of town, along the mountains as the sun is rising..... I park less than 50 feet from the hospital front entrance (This is bound to make my friends at SLCH green with envy).

2- Although it is a very small hospital, they appear pretty professional. All records are fully computerized which makes getting orders, writing notes and doing charges efficient and easy (even for somebody on their second day on the job). They have as many computers as therapists in the rehab department.

3- I had my first experience treating a Spanish-only-speaking older hispanic gentleman. All I can say is that my best preparation for adult care in Southern New Mexico was playing "Charades" with the Rehab kids on the 12th floor at St. Louis Children's hospital.

4- The hospital Cafetaria is used as a Sunday-lunch-after-church-spot for the many retirees in town. They do have a great coffee bistro bar also (really)!!!!

5- Pediatric and geriatric bowel habits and other bodily functions aren't that different from one another.

6- It's been a long time since I've seen that many ponytails and mullets in a hospital environment....

I'm sure I'll have plenty more thoughts along the way. The truth so far is that the other therapists are very nice, easy to work with and professional. I don't think the work will be that exciting and thrilling but I do think I'm going to learn some about the use of cardiac, respiratory and lab values in PT with sick adults and possibly wound care (That seems to be pretty established here with one of the PT's certified in wound care and what appear to be efficient protocols with daily logs including pictures).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cloudcroft town

I think I could live here -or at least hang out for a month or three- ........ ;-)

Pictures - Sacramento mountains beauty...

These are taken less than 10 minutes from my apartment complex, on my drive to Cloudroft in the mountains....

pictures - leaving St. Louis....

Bye to Lisa, Benji and Noah...... Ready for the drive....

Saturday, September 13, 2008


It's Saturday early afternoon and I'm in the Alamogordo library. Hopefully I'll be able to blog from my apartment on Monday night and include some pictures.....

I left St. Louis early Thursday morning and drove without many breaks (my bladder really has a great holding capacity!!!) for 12 hours to Amarillo, Texas.... Lots of rain and tractor-trailers on the road (not a good combination!!!) which made it a challenging drive for somebody without much road trip experience.... -I LOVE MY SUBARU!!!!!- Friday driving was much easier (6 hours only) in sunshine through beautiful New Mexico. There's not a lot of towns in Eastern New Mexico and just crossing the Texas/New Mexico border was almost magical. It felt a little like the Serengeti in Tanzania with it's dry planes of 'nothing-ness'..... I remember liking the Serengeti landscape exactly for that reason too, whilst most people preferred the fertile NgoroNgoro Crater area.

Alamogordo itself is very much just a small town with plenty -too many?!?!?!- fast food and motel chains. But somehow in less than one day, I managed to find a health food store (Nature's pantry), the local farmers market (which rocks with people on Saturday mornings) and at least 3 little individually owned coffee places....
The surrounding area is just georgeous; the mountains (Sacramento Mountains about 10 miles East of Alamogordo) are beautiful and I can't wait to go hiking tomorrow....
At least 4 people have told me fall is the best time of year to be here. Yesterday was about 78 in the afternoon and about 60 at night I think.

I drove past the hospital which looks fairly new and spread out over just one or 2 levels (I guess one thing they definitely have enough of is space!!!!). I found a nice fitness center close to the hospital with a good selection of classes so I think I'll sign up with them soon.

The hotel complex is very nice with a great pool. I have a 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor with a little balcony. As the furniture hadn't arrived yet when I got there yesterday, I got to know some of my neighbors, the manager and managers assistant, so I'm up on the town- and apartment complex gossip.........;-).
There's a crew -staying at the complex- filming some movie for a few months. I think I'll hang out at the pool some this afternoon and see if I'll "accidentally run into" some of them.....

So far, so good for now.... The transition has been much easier than I had anticipated. Hopefully the work transition will be similar.... It definitely feels good to be here!!

For the rest of today, I'm planning to unpack some more stuff, transition the spare bedroom into a meditation room, cook something healthy (after all the bad stuff on the road I have the biggest fruit and vegetable craving!!!!) and get organized for work on Monday.
Tomorrow I'm checking out a Buddhist meditation place in Tularosa (about 10 miles north of here) and drive into the mountains to hike.....

Lots of plans, lots of excitement still,... I'll keep you updated!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Leaving town tomorrow early.....

It is happening...... I'm about to leave St. Louis for Alamogordo, New Mexico. My excitement is being tempered a little by some nervousness, ........ but overall, I feel READY!!!!

I keep reminding myself of the great Dr. Seuss wisdom as discribed in 'Oh, the places you'll go!'......

"But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike.
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course
as you already know
you'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
98 and 3/4% guaranteed.

So, be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'shea,
you're off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So..... get on your way!!

I'm not entirely sure about internet access in my appartment out there, but I'm promising an update as soon as I can!!!

More pictures

Here's some more pictures of us in Caseville:
The 4 of us out for dinner, Deb and I chilling (really CHILLing) in the lake, and our (fake ;-( ) mushroom tattoos.....