Thursday, May 17, 2012
What I Did on Vacation
If you're a regular reader of this little blog, you know that the last year of my life at the office has been less than stellar. Because of all the grief inflicted on our department by the implementation of a bad, bad, BAD computer system, I was unable to take my beloved camping trips during the 2011 season. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to a week in the woods during a long-anticipated WHOLE WEEK OFF this week!
Rain was predicted for Monday, so I packed most of the camping gear in the car on Sunday evening. I'm a tent camper, so even though I can get everything in my little Saturn, it has to be packed just so in order to fit. When I went to bed Sunday night all that remained to put in the car was my medication, my small stash of items to be put on ice in the cooler, and my clothing for the week.
When I awoke Monday morning I heard the rain before I looked out the window. I packed the last of my needed items into the car and headed for Food City to get a breakfast biscuit, some sweet potato chips, and a bag of ice for the cooler. While waiting to pay for my biscuit (which was, by the way, delicious) I saw an older gentleman throw one of the biggest fits I've ever seen in public. If anyone from Food City management in the new Bristol, Virginia store happens to be reading this, the young lady who was operating the check out register at your deli this morning was NOT AT FAULT, and the man who was having such a fit was a TOTAL JERK. Just sayin'.
Anyway, after I'd paid for my items I headed toward the campground at Sugar Hollow Park. Even though it's very near where I live, I'd never camped there before. There were very few campers in the campground when I arrived, and some of them left during the day. I chose a site at the end of a loop within easy walking distance of both water and the bathhouse. I checked the electrical connection to be sure it worked (much better than finding out after you've already pitched a tent!), then proceeded to get the tent set up. It rained the entire time I was setting up, and SO HELP ME as I drove the last tent stake into the ground, the sun came out!! *LOL* Oh, well, it all worked out okay any way.
I dried the tent floor with an old bath towel, turned the heater on in the tent to help dry it out, and took a little break. After a quick call to Mom to let her know that I had cell service (but no wi-fi, thank goodness...I needed a break from technology!!), I unloaded the rest of my gear from the car and got the tent set up and squared away.
After another brief rest, I decided that I'd go out and pick up a salad for my main meal, since it was after 2:00 p.m. by this time. I went to Wendy's for a pecan chicken salad with pomegranate vinagrette (yum!), then came back to the campground to eat it. After my delicious lunch-dinner I dragged out my comfy lounge chair, fired up the netbook, typed an entry into a "camping diary" I'd decided to keep for the week. At my side, waiting for me to finish typing, were my knitting bag and my Kindle. I had a library loan on the Kindle that I had to finish before Thursday, but I finished it before bedtime that evening. Though I'd seen the movie numerous times, I'd never read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". As much as I love the movie, I liked the book even more. It's grittier than the movie...sadder in some ways, more inspiring in others. If you've not read it, you should.
Keeping track of how much wildlife I saw, on the first day I saw two spiders, two bunny rabbits, one chipmunk and heard a gazillion cicadas. (The 17-year cicadas are in full song in my neck of the woods.)
Early in the evening, I took a walk around part of the campground. (I intended to walk further, but a thunderstorm was threatening around, so I cut it short.) I had the opportunity to meet a nice couple just a short distance from my campsite. That reminds me that I meant to tell you the day's count for campers in the campground: 1 pop-up, 2 camping trailers (but only one was occupied that evening) and 2 tents, including mine! I zipped up for the night and settled in, comfortable in my cozy tent, listening to far rumblings of thunder and the song of the cicadas.
As is my habit, I awoke early Tuesday morning. The air was crisp and cool, so I turned on the electric kettle to make myself a cup of hot tea for breakfast and lazily crawled back under the sleeping bag to wait for the water to boil. I turned on my Zune to see if I could check the local weather on the radio and learned that there was a chance of rain later that afternoon. After breakfast I cleaned up the tent and dressed for the day. I sat outside the tent and settled in for a restful session of knitting. The campground was very quiet, and I enjoyed watching a bunny play while I completed a few rounds on a pair of socks I'm knitting.
The park ranger on duty came by to be sure all was well and that I had passed the night comfortably. I commented to him that I'd seen one runner and one bicyclist go by on a trail near the campsite and asked where the trail went from there. From over his sun visor he pulled a nice little map of all the trails in the park and told me that he'd been told that there was enough bicycle traffic on the trails these days to ensure that the trails had been packed down nice and smooth. I thanked him and said that I might actually get up out of my chair and take a little hike.
The weather began to cloud up, so I decided that if I planned to take a hike I should probably go ahead and do it then, saving my knitting to do in the tent while it was raining later in the day.
Things didn't quite work out that way......
I changed out of sandals into my sneakers, consulted the map, and found a trail marked "easy" that would provide a nice walk beside a creek that runs through the park. The trail had washed some during the rain of the day before, but was well-marked and enjoyable to walk. I did find that "easy" is a relative term; for a younger, more fit person I'm sure the trail IS easy. For me, I'd call it "moderate". I was being very watchful for tree roots and mud that might trip me. After all, I was walking alone. As a precaution I had my "bear whistle" hanging around my neck and had my cell phone in my pocked. I was carrying a bottle of water and my camera. I saw several lovely sights and snapped photos that I will post on Flickr soon for your perusal. On this lovely scenic trail, there was one brief section that veered away from the creek it follows to go around a tree. In that small portion of the trail, it climbs very steeply uphill, the drops just as steeply downhill on the other side of the tree. I proceeded cautiously, watching the tree roots and being mindful of the mud. My caution didn't help.
As I reached the high point of that little section going around the tree I had a brief moment to realize I was losing my balance. There was nothing to grab onto to steady myself, and down I went. As it always happens when I have a fall, I really don't know exactly what happened. All I know for certain is that when it was over, I was lying in the underbrush on the lower side of the trail and my right ankle hurt like the dickens. My first thought was, "I hope there's no bone sticking out." My second thought was, "I'm glad I'm here instead of Grindstone!" Because in Grindstone I wouldn't have had any cell service. Fearfully, hopefully, I felt my ankle and was relieved to see that nothing was sticking out. The ankle was beginning to swell, though, and I knew I'd better get out of there as quickly as I could before it got worse.
Quickly consulting my trail map I learned that I was just over half way to the picnic area, so I decided to go forward instead of back-tracking. I would call the park ranger from the picnic area and ask if he'd give me a ride back to the campsite.
I hobbled to the end of the trail and crossed a bridge into the picnic area. I could hear park employees working with chainsaws in the upper part of the picnic area but knew that I'd never be able to make them hear me over the noise of the saws. I flipped open my cell phone; no service. Oh, man, this was not good. I sat on a picnic bench in one of the shelters and sipped water for a few moments to catch my breath. I knew where the ranger's check-in building was, and it was a long, steep climb out of the picnic area. At least it was paved.
By the time I got the ranger's building in sight, my ankle was really hurting. I got cell service back within steps of the building. Figures! I explained to the ranger what had happened and asked if he'd mind giving me a ride back to my campsite. He was very kind and was happy to give me a lift. He waited to be sure I was able to get into the tent okay and said if I needed anything to be sure to call.
I was all muddy and grubby from my fall, so I hobbled to the bathhouse to shower and wash my hair. When I got back to the tent, I realized I'd left my car keys hanging on a hook outside the shower and had to go BACK to the bathhouse to retrieve them.
When I got back to the tent again I found that my ankle was swelling pretty badly. I'm diabetic, so when it comes to a foot injury, I always lean to the side of overcaution. I didn't want to frighten them, but I called Mom and Dad and told them that I thought I probably should have a doctor look at the ankle. They came to the campground and took me to Urgent Care.
Their office was pretty busy that afternoon, so it wound up taking about four hours to get everything done. The doctor took a look and said that because it was swollen all around instead of just on the side that whacked the ground, it would be a good idea to get an x-ray. I agreed. The x-rays revealed a spiral fracture of the tibia. Rats.
They immobilized my ankle with a huge, heavy cast (photo above) that I not-so-fondly referred to as the Frankencast. I had to be taught to walk on crutches, which was a new experience for me. Armed with prescriptions for pain pills and anti-inflammatories and an appointment with an orthopedic specialist for the following afternoon, we headed for the drugstore to fill the prescriptions.
While waiting for the prescriptions to be filled, we came up with a plan for what to do about my campsite. I thought I could probably go back to the site and spend the night, then pack up and have things ready to break camp the next day. My mother would not hear of that. Not only was I going to be on pain medication, but the walk to the bathhouse on crutches in a campground with very few other campers was not going to be safe. What if I fell again? Reluctantly I agreed with her. She was right.
After receiving my medication, we picked up burgers and went to the campground. There were things there I'd need even though I would be spending that night at Mom and Dad's house. After I ate my burger I said that I could sit on my bed and pack up a few things. This was going pretty well; I'd pack and Mom was carrying what I packed to my car. Daddy asked if I thought I could finish that up and I said that I believed I could. So, he went to pick up a friend of his so that his friend could drive my car back to Mom and Dad's house. (Mom has a valid driver's license, but hasn't driven in years.)
So, with great effort and much gritting of teeth, I got things pulled together and packed up and Mom crammed them into the car. By the time Daddy got back all that remained was to drop the tent, roll it up, and fold up the ground tarps.
As it turns out it was a good thing I spent the night at Mom and Dad's. It was a truly miserable night. Even with the pain meds I was very uncomfortable and couldn't manage to fall asleep until about 3:00 am when exhaustion finally felled me for a few hours.
Wednesday morning I was in less pain and began to get the hang of the crutches. I was anxious to see what the orthopedic doctor had to say. I'd been told that my injury might require a screw to hold things in place while the bone healed, and I wasn't particularly looking forward to that.
Luckily for me, the doctor told me that the very fact that I'd been able to walk out to the ranger station was an indicator that the tendons and muscles surrounding my fracture were strong and provided enough stability that surgery would not be necessary (YAY!). The Frankencast was removed and replaced with a much lighter air cast which can be removed for showers (DOUBLE YAY!). I'm scheduled to return to the doctor in two weeks to be sure that everything's progressing as expected. He said that it will take three months for everything to completely heal, but he expects me to be fine, thank goodness.
After we returned home and had dinner, I took a pain pill which knocked me flat on my butt! Unfortunately, I woke up a little past midnight and haven't been able to go back to sleep. That's why I'm making a blog entry in the wee hours. *sigh*
So, the bad news is that on Day Two of a planned week-long camping trip I broke my leg. The good news is that I'm going to be fine.
Here's hoping your week is less eventful than mine has been so far. :-)