Fall tales

Greetings hurricane survivors,

      It’s been a roller coaster ride of trips for the past few months with a lot of smiles and a few tears along the way. I joined Lynn to work in Whittier, Alaska for Labor Day weekend, and it was a beautiful setting in a town accessible by boat or one lane, 2 mile tunnel designed for both trains and cars. Once you get the timing down you’re not going to encounter any oncoming trains inside the tunnel, but it keeps your eyes on the road and no time for texting distractions. We lived and worked in the one 15 story building in town that houses everyone, estimated at 216 the last time the census was taken, so there aren’t many secrets among the locals. We enjoyed the spectacular scenery with hikes with some of Lynn’s old friends on our days off, and the glaciers, waterfalls and blueberries kept your mind off the wandering grizzly bears in the surrounding woods.

A few days later I jumped on a last minute plane to Atlanta since my dad was flown to a hospital there after a hit and run encounter as he walked in a rest stop parking lot while escaping Hurricane Irma in Florida. Initially he was just bruised up, but a heart attack in the hospital proved too much and he died a few days later. He was almost 92 and a crummy way to go, but he had a good run and I was fortunate to have him around for so long. I returned to Florida a few weeks later to clean out his place with the help of my step sister, and it’s all been a reminder of our mortality and the fragility of life. So keep moving and add some love along the way whenever possible.

A wonderful trip to Michigan to meet Lynn’s folks and the rest of her family helped restore the balance, and I’m still enjoying fresh apples and Dutch bakery banket along with the memories of the love and hospitality they shared with me. We rented a beautiful, quiet cabin on Lake Michigan and the fall colors were just starting to appear to add to the scenery. Her folks even invited me back, so I took that as a good sign and hope to see them again before too long.

Back in Colorado, the leaves are falling and the snow has started to blanket the mountains, so I changed the filters and turned the heat on for the season. Hope you’re enjoying the fall and write some news from home.

Cheers,

Still smiling Bob

One lane, car and train 2 mile tunnel to Whittier, Alaska

The 15 story building in Whittier that houses the entire town

Lynn and Sophie demo the bear that left bite marks in the van

Berry picking hike in Whittier along Prince William Sound

Lynn, her folks and sister KJ with Anna at an outdoor concert in MI

Fall hike in Colorado

Backyard view of first snow on Pikes Peak

Wilderness, water and an almost timeless capsule

Greetings summer lovers,

      It’s been warm and sunny for July and August, and we’ve enjoyed the great outdoors in a few different settings. First we tested Lynn’s inflatable kayaks on the Arkansas River just south of Colorado Springs and found them to be a wonderful, lazy way to see the birds along the shores. Then a weekend in Breckenridge with the conference for the Wilderness Medical Society had us teaching a dental workshop to folks who like to do medicine in the woods, and they left hopeful for a dental emergency to test their new skills on someone with a toothache far from civilization.

Next up was a week in Hood River, Oregon for some windsurfing in 100 degree weather, which made the water even more refreshing, and we finished up smiling and bruised. A few days later we were in Galveston, TX, unknowingly a week ahead of Hurricane Harvey to teach some more dentistry to the medical crew heading to Antarctica. I was able to work out a team building exercise of sailboat racing in 22 foot Sonars provided by a local sailing center called the Sea Star Base, and it turned out to be the highlight of the orientation schedule.

We’ve been home 10 days now, and had a chance to view the eclipse through homemade glasses that Lynn was unsure about until her mom said it was OK, which tells you where my credibility rating is pegged. Last weekend we made breakfast for 20 in a hiking group I belong to, and afterwards we found a time capsule that Lauren and I buried 19 years ago with the help if a metal detector, because we  were unable to locate it last summer after a few hours of digging up the backyard. We finished up with a hike and pickleball lesson from a patient of mine who is always promoting the sport, and may have converted a few curmudgeons to courtside athletes.

Hope your getting less rain than Houston and enjoying the sunshine.

Cheers,

Boating Bob

Ready to Kayak the Arkansas River

Lynn shows good form on the river

Lecture to the Wilderness Medical Society

Attempting a jibe on my windsurfer on the Columbia River

Lynn’s got the gear and the right attitude for windsurfing-
note the hammock for tired muscles

Antarctic medical crew gets some dental practice on each other


Lynn’s boat heels to port in the Sonar races

Sailboats race around the orange marker in Galveston

Making homemade eclipse glasses after watching youtube instructions

Time capsule successfully retrieved from the backyard after 19 years

Nancy keeps everyone’s attention on the pickleball court

AK Eagles and Bears

Greetings lower 48er’s

       After only 6 months of paperwork and enough application fees to send board members to a nice conference in the Bahamas, I was granted a dental license for Alaska. Then I got to repeat most of it again to get credentialed for the Eastern Aleutian Tribes so I could join Lynn working in a clinic in a remote part of Alaska where the grizzlies roam free. It all worked out in time for me to get a 2 week contract in June, and the final sea skimming 10 minute flight aboard a 5 seat airplane deposited me in King Cove to experience life in a commercial fishing town of 800.

We had a lovely apartment 100 yards from the modern medical and dental clinic, and were fortunate enough to have folks give us some fresh halibut and king crab to enjoy the local flavors for home cooked meals. I oriented and worked with Mike the dentist and his wife Gaby, who cover the seven dental clinics spread along the length of the Aleutian Islands, sometimes with the help of newly trained dental health aids. He flew off after a few days to another island to take care of a root canal and left me to take care of the dental needs of the locals, and with Gaby’s help it all worked out.

Lynn stayed busy with the medical side of things, and after work and on the weekends we ventured out on a number of hikes in the surrounding hills and mountains. The locals recommended guns for the bears, but bear spray was easy enough to carry and the bears we saw were always running away. The rest of the wildlife, including eagles, fox and otters were less of a concern, and the scenery of snow capped peaks and windswept waves on the ocean were always an inspiration to enjoy the outdoors.

We finished up with a few vacation days in Sitka, where I got humbled on the pickleball court one afternoon and we hiked a calf searing trail with friends the next morning. All in all a great experience in the far north, and I’ll probably return to work there again sometime.

Hope your summer is going well and the bears keep running away.

Cheers,

Bear spray toting Bob

Balancing the weight by loading the nose of the 5 seat airplane to King Cove

Hiking above the town of King Cove

Lynn models the bear spray for the hikes

2 of the 3 cubs that were hustled away by a mama grizzly

The mountain scenery around the town

Gaby and Molly in the dental clinic

Alaskan condoms try to get the message across with humor

A brave puffin on the pier

Sitka trail works builds neat stairways though the forests