Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peaks and Canyons: enjoying the highway of life and trying to avoid it's speed traps

           At around 4am on August 29th Angela and I loaded up my poor QX4 with enough junk to last us 3 months on the road and set off on the next leg of our adventure.  After saying goodbye to my parents, who dutifully if not begrudgingly woke up before the sunrise to see us off, I set the Q in motion and we drove off.  As I coasted the Q down the driveway, it's breaks let out a squeal loud enough to wake the neighborhood up, letting me know that it was too old and had too many miles on it to be embarking on such a massive adventure.  I too was wondering if I was ready for 3 months of living out of a suitcase, living in strangers houses, and adapting to new cultures (I had grown use to the comforts of California, and the close proximity of the beach!!).  As the car traveled further down the freeway, and my belly became full of coconut donuts and coffee, I began to get more and more excited about the adventure before us.   I was living out the dream I had created for 4th year long before medical school started and I could not believe it was coming true.  We had a great time in California (I will let Angela tell you more about it) but as the sun rose over the high desert I knew the adventures ahead of us would be just as grand. (The only sad thing will be watching my tan that I had spent so much time obtaining, disappear over the next few weeks.)
         Our excitement increased even more when we arrived in Needles, Ca at around 8a and it was already 95 degrees! We had finally got some true summer heat that we had been missing all summer. As we climbed in elevation in Northern Az our excitement grew to a feverish pitch.  We we were surrounded by pine trees, fresh air, and road signs with pictures of Elk that let you know you don't stand a chance if you hit one.  Our excitement boiled over to inaudible bursts of joy when we first saw the Grand Canyon.   For Angela it was her first time seeing it, for me I was again amazed at how . . . for lack of a better word . . . grand it is.  We parked the car to step out and take pictures of the canyon only to realize we had parked feet away from two mule deer.   The deer were very photogenic and clearly used to people.  Not believing our luck we watched the deer for about 30 mins and then turned our attention back to the canyon.  We hiked/drove to many different lookouts along the canyon all afternoon long.   Each time marveling at it's beauty and remarking how the canyon looked completely different from each lookout.  As the sun began to drift downwards we left the Grand Canyon and headed for Tuba City which was a Hopi Indian reservation.  We stayed at a nice adobe styled hotel built by the Hopi Indians and then headed for Pueblo the next day.
            Not two hours into our drive the next morning, Angela was pulled over for going 72 in a 65. Luckily, despite not having the current insurance card in the glovebox, the officer was nice enough to give Angela only a warning.   We learned our lesson and proceeded to travel the rest of the way at a painstakingly slow 65mph.  As we traveled towards Pueblo we crossed Four Corners which I believe was a bit of a let down for Angela.   I do not know what she was expecting, but empty desert with a slab of concrete and a few Navajo Indian gift stands was not it.  We continued on and stopped for lunch on a nice river in Durango, Co.  We were both impressed with the city and the amazing WalMart it had.  Stopping there erased the bad memories I had from years ago of my cornea being burned by soot from the Silverton train which left from Durango station.
           After our peaceful lunch by the river we headed up the Continental Divide and were immediately pounded by hail, thunder, and lightening.   Thankfully we escaped without a dented car or cracked window, though I was not sure if we would.  Once the hail and rain stopped we were able to enjoy the beauty of the Rockies as we climbed to 11,000 ft.   We both loved being engulfed by the pine forest and watching the distant storms roll over the peaks.   As we traveled down the pass we descended into high desert and remained in the high desert, traveling along the foothills of the Rockies, until we reached our final destination of Pueblo, CO, elev ~5000 ft.
            Pueblo is a nice city of about 100,000 people.   It is in the desert but is framed by the tall peaks of the Rockies which are an hour's drive away.  Downtown Pueblo is very green, with a beautiful park.  There is a river which runs through the center of the city and a nice riverwalk with many places to eat.  There is also a zoo and a nice lake which allows water skiing and has a campground by it.  Overall, we are very impressed with the city.   It reminds me of Riverside because it is a city built in the desert with mountains surrounding it.  The population size and the riverwalk remind Angela of Shreveport.  The house we are staying at is very nice as well.  We are staying with an ER doctor who is very hospitable and very helpful.  We are able to talk to her about many different aspects of the Parkview Hospital and the city of Pueblo.  She has given us good insight.  We both have also enjoyed our rotations at the hospital and are very impressed with the hospital.   However, there will be more on that and more about our Labor day weekend adventure later.  For now I must turn in because we have our 1st Residency interview tomorrow!!
Things we are praying about: That we will listen to God as He leads us towards whichever Residency program He chooses; Angela's health (the NON humid weather is giving her skin fits), Our upcoming interview; and our sanity as we continue to travel!