Greetings earth bound friends,
It’s been another enjoyable spring back in the good old USA, starting with Lauren’s graduation with her MBA and continuing to work full time with her non-profit Mind and Melody down in Florida. She’s done a great job jumping into the real world and continues to impress me with her achievements.
I’m still working too, and signed up to go back to Alaska in May to Sitka and then King Cove in the Aleutian Islands. I taught some dentistry to folks who signed up for a Wilderness Advanced Life Support conference in Sitka, and got to attend the rest of the course as well, which was super. Then flew off to King Cove and worked for 3 weeks on the locals. I hiked on the weekends and saw some bears, eagles, hawks, foxes and even a shy porcupine, but managed to walk out alive and smiling.
Back home, the most aggressive animal I’ve had to deal with is a raccoon who chewed through the metal barrier on my chimney and set up housekeeping above my fireplace. My smoky fire evicted most of the family, but it appears I may have roasted one or two evidenced by the cloud of flies in my basement a few weeks later. Yesterday I donned protective gear and scraped and vacuumed all the debris I could reach in the flue, hoping to avoid getting the hanta virus and getting rid of the flies, which seems to have worked out so far.
So Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there and hope your home is free of bears, raccoons and other uninvited guests.
Hola Holiday Hopefuls,
It’s been a pleasant fall in Colorado, with plenty of sunshine for pickleball and hiking. Despite all that, Lynn was drawn back to Alaska, where she found a beautiful place to rent on the water in the town of Sitka. The morning whale spouts look like a train choo-chooing in the bay, and a curious sea lion often swims up to the deck. I paid a visit in October and have to admit it’s a pretty spell binding place. We hiked, biked and she demonstrated the awe inspiring sport of paragliding off a local ridge for me one afternoon.
I returned to Colorado, and Lynn joined me for a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend with friends in Steamboat Springs. The cross country skiing was good and the outdoor hot springs felt glorious for sore muscles afterwards.
A few weeks ago I got to celebrate Lauren’s 25th birthday in Florida,and she’s on her final semester to get her MBA in April. Her non profit Mind and Melody (www.mindandmelody.org) has thrived since getting the advice and guidance of mentors, and she scored a first place $10K prize from a Florida Shark Tank like contest, and another $10K grant from a bridge club foundation a few weeks later. She’ll soon start drawing a full time salary and continue to work with her organization after graduation to support herself which is an amazing accomplishment.
December has flown by and after one more week of work it’s on to the holidays. I’m heading up to Sitka for some celebrating with Lynn, then home for a few days to repack and head south to return to work in Antarctica. Lynn secured a contract for Ascension Island, a tropical oasis in the middle of the Atlantic for a few months, so she’ll probably have a better tan than mine when we get together again in April.
Hope your days get longer soon and you have some family time to enjoy the season.
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.
Still smiling Bob
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.
Hail to canoe fans,
Recently some of my hiking buddies invited me to join them on a Boundary Waters canoe adventure in the 1700 square mile, 1 million acre area in northern Minnesota that is famous for backcountry wilderness to get in touch with nature and sore shoulders. It was a rolling 2 day drive from Colorado to Ely, Minnesota, gateway to a universe of canoeing. It seemed that every car, truck, restaurant and shop was catering to canoeing and all the accessories you can imagine and some you can’t to make the backcountry experience unforgettable.
Our hearty group of 6 paddled off for a six day adventure of paddling, portaging between lakes, and paddling some more to find scenic camping spots without the benefit of any signs or recognizable landmarks since the wilderness designation means you’re on your own. Actually the only sign we ever saw was a notice that the forest service was tagging wolves in the area which surprisingly didn’t register high on the safe and secure meter. A few of us tried to get lost in the dense woods but managed to make it back to our campsite before dark thereby denying the wolves a chance to practice their pack hunting tactics on a stray, clueless animal.
I was even able to put my dental education to use when I convinced the unwashed members of my party to practice good dental hygiene around the campfire, and we flossed nightly before heading to the tents. It was a fitting prelude to a restful night’s sleep on the rocks and roots that somehow grow under the tent after it has been pitched on a seemingly flat, even surface. Overall a great trip with guy bonding 24/7, and the wind, cold and rain didn’t deter our spirits and kept the mosquitoes and black flies at bay. We stayed an extra night in Ely to indulge on the mouth watering walleye and fresh pie served up at the Chocolate Moose restaurant, and I noticed we walked out with an all knowing canoe swagger in our step as survivors of the Boundary Waters. To top it off, Pat joined me in Colorado a few days after my return to share the Indian summer weather with the aspens turning gold in the mountains. Hope your fall is shaping up and you’re ready for the next round.
Boundary Waters veteran Bob
Hola wildlife fans,
My Florida college student made her dad proud when she discovered three screech owl chicks had fallen from their nest, and despite efforts to return them to their mom, they ended up back on the ground in the back yard of the new rental house. Following a Google search for the care and maintenance of screech owl babies, Lauren lovingly fed them raw liver until the local wildlife rescue center could pick them up and take them to their facility and raise them to the point where they could be released into the wild. I got to visit them last week with Lauren while I was in Florida, and one of them stared at me with such intensity that I kept waiting for him to speak up like in the Dr. Doolittle movies. The lady who has cared for them since Lauren handed them over said they would be ready for release in about 2 weeks, so hopefully they’ll fly off to a happy ending.
In other news, my kite sailing in Texas resulted in more fun rides across the water with fewer crashes, and Pat even spent some time there with me. She’s back in FL and I’m back working in CO until our next rendezvous in Washington DC in a few weeks where we’ll hop on a 17 hour plane ride for a dental project in Madagascar. It’s a new place for both of us where I’ll fix some teeth during the week with the promise of lemurs on the weekend. When that’s done we’ll hang out in South Africa for 10 days to see the big game before finishing up in Cape Town.
I drove to work in light snow 2 days ago but it looks and feels like spring has finally arrived in the Rockies. Hope your weather is free of tornadoes and floods, and write some news form home.
Africa bound Bob
Hola spring hopefuls,
Last weekend brought a full range of weather to Colorado, so for starters a hike in the snow was in order with the Saturday Knights, a band of old guys that likes to traipse around the backcountry no matter what the conditions. The trail and trees were decked out in their best winter coverage and it made for beautiful scenery until the sun started melting it all and dropping snow on our heads and down that little exposed part of our necks on the way out. By the next day, the thermometer was flirting with 70 degrees, so I traded my snow gear for shorts and a tee shirt to bike downtown on my electric road bike to see some friends.
I came home later in the afternoon and as I was cleaning out the fireplace I glanced out the window and saw 2 bobcats hanging around my artificial turf in the back. It was a rare treat to see these normally elusive predators, and I called the neighbor to bring her little girls over to have a look. Mom and the girls quietly came by, and as we watched the cats from the deck, one of the young ladies, who probably tips the scales at 30 pounds started to descend the stairs to get a closer look. I mentioned to her that a bobcat might see her as a nice mid afternoon snack, so she reconsidered her position as a menu item and came back to enjoy the view from above.
The rest of the week the weather has see-sawed between blizzards and balmy, so I’m hopeful it will make up it’s mind and I can either leave my ski racks on the car or get ready to see the flowers start to appear. Either way it’s a good excuse to get outside and commune with the elements. No matter what the groundhog says I’m ready for some spring weather and hope your flower boxes are in order too.
Bobcat fan Bob
Hi blizzard fans,
A few weeks ago I joined 7 cross country ski friends for a jaunt to one of the cabins in the Colorado 10 Mountain Division hut system, named after the legendary World War Two troops that trained in Colorado. We always hope to find fresh snow on the trails, and mother nature delivered with over 2 feet of powder that fell continuously for the 3 days we were out. That combined with the 30-50 mile per hour winds made it all the more interesting, but we all made the five mile ski to 11,300 feet in good spirits, and spent a few days enjoying good company, food and wine. The 2-3 foot snow drifts on the way to the outhouse in the middle of the night were challenging, and made crawling back into a warm sleeping bag even more rewarding. We skied out a few days later with no sign of our trail, and after getting temporarily lost in a sea of white, we picked up the trail and made in out in time for a visit to a new brewery in the town of Buena Vista that served up fresh Reuben sandwiches from savory grass fed beef. That led to a back seat nap for me on the drive back with the promise of a hot shower once I returned home.
I put a few days of work in before boarding a flight to Florida to hang out with Pat for Valentine’s Day and spend a few days in sunshine and 80 degree warmth, including a day of windsurfing before heading back to Colorado to finish out the winter. It seems like I’ve shoveled our driveway more than I can remember in the past, but spring is just around the corner. Hope your winter has plenty of snow and ice to help you appreciate the prospect of warmer weather.