Coast to Coast Adventure, Days 10-14

My husband Rob and I have quit our jobs and are moving from Dayton, OH to Medford, OR with our two dogs Moose and Schuyler. Before we settle there, we are embarking on a 2.5 month adventure across the US. I’ll be working as a hospitalist when we get to Oregon in September.

We started this stretch of days waking up exhausted and sore. The previous day’s attempted overnight left us all tired and sore. We took the dogs for a short walk and had a leisurely morning. One thing about our dogs, they will never miss an opportunity to sleep in. They are pretty lazy at their core, and will snuggle with us under the covers until one of us has to get up to pee. My favorite time of day is getting BOOPs from Sky in bed and spooning with my large adult son Moose.

Rob and I then drove up to RMNP and hiked up to Big Meadows. My legs were dying and physically rebelling against anymore uphill at that point, so it was a bit of a slog even though it was an easy trail. The reveal at the end was worth it, though.

We spent some time sitting in the shade, just savoring our surroundings. For a good 20 minutes, we didn’t see any other people, and had the whole meadow to ourselves. The creek bubbling and the wind whipping through the tall grasses was hypnotic.

We looked up from taking our picture to see we had been joined by some company. A momma and baby moose. They were about 50 feet away, grazing and meandering along. We hid behind the trees to watch them as they sauntered across the meadow. The baby would run ahead and then back to mom, so cute and fluffy with its long spindly legs.

We went back to the condo we were renting for a drama filled scene. Moose was howling and wailing and carrying on. Unfortunately this scene was doomed to repeat itself the next day. The condos had too much activity going on and too many dogs and people making noises, and it riled the dogs right up. The next day we had again driven up to RMNP for a hike, but our dog-cam showed Moose being hysterical, so instead we hopped right back in the car and drove the hour home.

I love my two dogs very much, but they do not make traveling easy. Sky is incredibly reactive and will bark her head off anytime she sees another dog. It creates a huge problem on the trails, especially narrow ones high up the mountains. The worst part is that now Moose acts this way, too. He used to be our chillaxed friendly guy, wanting to say hi to everyone… now he starts barking and pulling on his leash. I fear this is only going to get worse until we get settled in Oregon and can work with a trainer.

That afternoon, we attempted another overnight trip. The campsite was less than one mile from the car, on the edge of a large beautiful meadow.

We set up camp, and another Moose came out to join us in the meadow. He kept his distance across the fields, and we set out to hike a little of the CDT. The portion we hiked was wooded and beautiful. There was no one else out there.

That feeling of isolation ultimately led me to decide not to spend the night yet again. I don’t even know what I’m worried about? The absence of sound, the absence of people. These things make me so happy during the day, but at night seem sinister. I yearn to be comfortable enough with myself in nature to spend the night in a beautiful place with no one but my little family around. I hope I’m able to do this by the time this trip is over in September.

Saturday morning came in on a wave of grumpiness. Rob hadn’t slept because he has “altitude included sleep apnea”. So he wakes up gasping in the night. Of course, he has sleep apnea ALL the time, he’s only waking up with it now because there is less oxygen at 9,000 feet. Will he go on a sleep study? No. Will he take his BP medicine? No. Being a doctor means fuck all to anyone in my family, they follow my recommendations 0% of the time. This is a perfect example of what patients do with our recommendations: they either follow them or not. Every person has to make their own decisions, and all I can do is make the best recommendation for them with the knowledge I have.

After getting out of the house too late, after 10, we drove up to Monarch Lake in Granby. We had planned on hiking past the lake on the cascade creek trail. Well every person up for the weekend from Denver had the same idea, and there was nowhere to park within a mile of the trailhead. Completely pissed off at this point, I turned the car around and we went back to hike a much less scenic hike, Doe Creek. Well this hike was in a meadow and forest affected by beetle kill so there was no shade and it was 85 degrees, the dogs lasted a mile, and then we had to turn around to avoid heat exhaustion.

We got back to the condo, and I continued to just be in bad mood. The last 2 days we had done none of the hikes we planned, and the hikes we did do were fairly boring. I did not even take a single picture, feeling the bland scenery didn’t merit it. Rob went in the house with the dogs and I set off on a walk into town. The Jazz Fest was in Winter Park this weekend, so I got to people watch and listen to (terrible) jazz as I walked. Getting in that extra exercise and time to myself helped me clear my head and get out of my bad mood. That night Rob and I were both tired, and settled in to start a new show on Netflix (Lucifer, which so far seems pretty good).

The next morning we packed up and are now on the road to Montana.

The drive is all two lane highways through remote parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. It’s big ranch country, and it’s beautiful. There’s just so much open land. It’s the kind of sparseness that makes you dream of owning a big piece of land…. but then you drive through the little “towns”. These towns are usually no more than a gas station and some trailers, a family dollar if you’re lucky. How far must the people who live there drive to go to a “real” grocery store? It seems there are only two income levels: super rich owners of the ranches, and the poor ranch hands that work for them.

All that being said. Wyoming has some of the most unexpected, beautiful places we’ve been through.

We’ll get into Red Lodge tonight, and hopefully our week there will include some more successful days of hiking and exploring.

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