Friday, July 4, 2008

Colorado! - July 4

Colorado is amazing. (This isn't a recent discovery). It was such a blessing to take a two week trip out West during the first half of June.

This trip was about people.

Of course, we managed to get some nice adventures in. We climbed with an Outward Bound friend in Vedauwoo. This is an area of granite outcrops near Laramie, WY that is famous for it's offwidths - heinous, awkwardly-sized cracks that require stuffing appendages in using all manner of configurations. While we didn't avoid the offwidths entirely, we mainly stuck to some classic hand and fist cracks.

We also did several hikes. In one case, I was able to manage a 9 mile round-trip hike into a snowy basin. It was a tremendous affirmation that beautiful high places in the mountains are not lost to me. Remarkably, the mountains seemed to invite us in - at 2 pm, snow that should have been mushy was mostly navigable without postholing.

However, the main event was seeing people. We spent time with Tom and Kathy Hornbein along with their daughter Melissa and her partner Blase. (Remember them? They were on the rescue team). One of the pictures here shows Tom, Blase, myself and Steve Komito (who has resoled my climbing shoes for 15 years, but whom I'd never met). We were treated to an amazing welcome at Tom and Kathy's house along with rapturous views of the Diamond on Long's Peak and the rest of the Rocky Mountain NP vista.

We also saw old friends - the Jarrards in Lander, WY. I met Steve 17 years ago when his oldest daughter was just out of diapers. Since then, he and his family have welcomed me and then Melissa. I often parked my VW bus in their driveway when I was invited over for Mary's homemade pizza. Now, their oldest daughter has finished her first year at Boston University.

It was a glorious welcome at the Rocky Mountain Orientation for Outward Bound in Leadville. So many instructor friends showed such affection and relief to see me alive and walking. The news of my accident had circulated through the Outward Bound community. It is a community that has known loss and that walks with the understanding of risk in mountain pursuits. It is nice to have a happy ending when a peer has a traumatic accident.

My mama drove up from Albuquerque to visit for a few days. It was very sweet for her to meet us out there - and of course, my mom is not afraid to poach a campsite and sleep on the ground. She has been so supportive through this whole ordeal, and it was good to see her for a few days in her bioregion.

A few other friends from Outward Bound and Princeton Blairstown Center (an outdoor ed center where we all worked) have made their way to the Denver-Boulder area. And of course, they all have children, so we asked lots of questions (since we're thinking...). A theme that seemed to come up: How do you get out for adventures while raising kids? It's wonderful to see how different families patch their lives together.

And now we are home. I owe some more posts, but I should note that Melissa and I have moved into a new apartment - the first time in 6 years that we have our own space. This past year, through the recovery, has felt challenging in a cramped apartment sharing our space with housemates.

Also, we received some very good news regarding medical bills. The Colorado hospital wrote off a substantial portion. This means that we're probably not going to end up with medical debt. We're still holding out for Massachusetts, especially since I'll be switching insurances and there might be more expense. However, the short answer is that all of YOUR HELP has made a great difference, and the bills that we do have are largely covered by the outpouring of financial support.

My life feels something like a bonus right now. It could have ended on August 8, 2007. Instead, I have wonderful friends, an amazing relationship with Melissa and much fulfillment. I'm so fortunate.