Shifting Gears

Pattye Snyder Health Guide
  • I just returned from a painfully challenging canoeing / camping trip in the North woods. Before leaving my dry warm bed, I was somewhat concerned as to my ability to scrunch into a paddling position in the bow of a boat, clamber back out of it after the daily paddles, and somehow survive living in new locations every night in a small tent. Well, I've spent the last week TRYING to dry out, get all of my bugbites, blisters, and a myriad of cuts and scratches healed, and most importantly for me, find a new perspective. Although I had the proper gear (well, most of it), I discovered that heavy rain 24/7 for almost the entire nine days didn't exactly produce a happy camper.

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    I think I ended up being wet in places I didn't even know I had! The reality is, I learned a lot about myself as well as some other people. I remember an extra neat leady I met about 30 years ago, who taught me that I don't have a right to complain about a situation, unless I can and will be a part of the solution to fix it!


    Admittedly, this was the first attempt at canoeing since I became bionic. I found that climbing into the canoe was fine, but I had to somehow figure a way to maneuver my lower body to sit down on a wet seat in pouring rain with two steel hips, a metal plate in my ankle, and the bonus of arthritis lurking throughout my body. I quickly found there was no graceful way to do this, so usually just let go and "gracefully" plopped into position. The REAL challenge was to find a way to get OUT of the canoe after a few hours of paddling. In spite of neat helpers, it seemed I almost needed a crane to lift me back to land. Of course it definitely didn't help that I had to climb into the water and onto large rocks wetly frosted in wet moss, lichen, and algae!


    Setting up wet equipment every night, crawling into a low, wet tent and into a wet sleeping bag - these things just continued to add to the joyful experience! Ohh-forgot to mention the boulders and roots (logs) that mysteriously ALWAYS appeared under the tent making sleeping truly delightful. The most important thing I learned is that I can, and did do it. However, I really wouldn't choose to do it again. Obviously there was nothing I could do about the weather, improper equipment (from the adventure company), or the guide I really didn't care for (who was very condescending)!


    However, since I am supposed to work for that company in Yellowstone in August for another canoe trip, I talked to the company and explained that my physical condition would make this trip not possible. I already had those flights reserved, so I shifted gears-I AM going to Yellowstone, but will be doing it as one of my famous road trips. With two kinds of cameras in hand (digital SLR and a 35mm), dry clothes, a warm (DRY) bed at night, and far less stress on my osteoarthritis and stainless steel body-I can truly enjoy the Grand Tetons and Old Faithful again!


    The day before I left Minneapolis for monsoon country, I purchased a Pelican case at a local photography store on the recommendation of a friend. Although it seemed expensive (over $100), the interior can be custom-fitted to hold two of my camera bodies, three lenses, and a variety of spare cards and batteries. Because of the weather and the situation in Canada, it proved to be an awesome idea. Since I've done adventure travel for most of my life, I had learned to not only count out my medications and place them in those "daily" med boxes, but also to tape each individual lid shut then package each of these in freezer Zip Locks to protect from moisture. However, with the heavy rain, one box somehow leaked and half of my meds melted, leaving me without medication for four days. NOT GOOD. My solution to this? Pelican has smaller cases that would fit perfectly with my meds, in their bottles. They really aren't that expensive, and definitely would provide the necessary protection!


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    In shifting gears, I've also completed my landscaping projects for my clients for the summer, and am paid in full! I'm starting to learn the Swahili I need for my work in Tanzania next summer and am trying to find people in the area to actually speak with in their native tongue (so I don't sound entirely like a textbook!). In spite of my trips, my vegetable garden is doing well (won't quite feed a third-world country), but it's amazing how much better my very own produce tastes. In spite of the circumstances of my canoe trip, I did get a lot of great pictures with my new digital camera gear. Although August is just beginning, I'm making arrangements to sell much of my photography online to help pay for my work in Africa. So... I DID have a rough trip, but learned a lot about me. I DON'T want to quit my adventures, I just need to learn to shift gears. I WON'T let OA control my life! Asante!

Published On: July 24, 2007