Tumbleweeds, Mountain Peaks, and the Red Baron

Pattye Snyder Health Guide
  • I just returned from my latest adventure—a trek out West.  Although I was somewhat concerned about the “stability” of my new hip and injured leg, I decided I needed the trip to get my head in the “right place” before my landscaping season begins (I’ve been through a TOUGH winter!).  In spite of the rude employees at the Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon, I ended up having the most awesome state-side trip ever!  I normally rent a conservative (cheap) car to transport me when on the road, but after waiting in line at the airport to pick it up, I suddenly changed my mind and switched to a bright red convertible—a treat I well deserved! 

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    In Sedona, I bravely opted for a bi-plane (that’s right—open canopy) flight.  It was scary, but I can now check THAT off of my “Life List!”  The first time the pilot banked the plane to the left, I thought I was a “goner,” but when the other passenger (6’4,” and BIG) grabbed MY hand, I just somehow knew we’d be okay!  Honestly, my first concern prior to the flight was that I wasn’t sure if I would actually be able to get INTO the plane since it required somewhat of a reverse “screw” of the entire body to get seated.  Earlier in the day, I opted for a jeep ride into the mountains—no one remembered to mention to me that this was a hair-raising, rock-climbing 4X4 adventure!  Two minutes into the jaunt, when we faced the first rock wall we were to ascend, I thought, “Jeez, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this…”  (Admittedly, I loudly muttered something far less lady-like as we descended the next rock face at an incredibly sharp angle—I just KNEW we’d flip end-over-end!)


    All in all, life with osteoarthritis has become an adventure.  I’m not always pleased with the twists and turns, but I’ve found I can adapt.  I honestly walked far more than usual on this trip (not necessarily by choice) with few problems other than the huffing and puffing that tends to accompany visits to higher altitudes.


    A bonus of the trip was I got to see just a few of the thousand–plus classic cars on a rally on Route 66—they were awesome!  I drove many miles off the road to see a botanical garden, but wasn’t informed until after I paid the admission, that there was NOTHING in bloom for at least another month.  However, I DID return to the DesertBotanical Garden in Scottsdale to find a glory of blossoms there!  I found Tonto National Monument with cliff dwellings—to my dismay, the guide informed me that it was 1/4-1/2 mile trek up a steep path (knew that wasn’t for me), then it was suggested I climb two flights up to the observation tower.  Of course that wouldn’t work either; thank goodness I’m a photographer—from the parking lot I grabbed a zoom lens and captured awesome shots of the cliff dwellings (and armed with the brochure, I was on my way!). 


    Before I forget, if you are over 60, the National Park Department has a DEAL for you—pay a one-time fee of $10, fill out the paperwork, and receive your Lifetime Golden Age Passport which admits you and your passengers into National Parks at no cost.  Best investment ever—I figured I saved $95 on one day alone this trip!

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    On my last day of exploring before again returning to the “real world,” I drove the entire Apache Trail through the SuperstitiousMountains—a pretty day, little wind, the majesty of the mountain peaks, and the top down on my convertible.  After leaving the main highway, I was suddenly launched into a different world—one of deserted mining camps and ghost towns (of course now traveler friendly).  The mountainsides were sprinkled with stately saguaros and blooming ocotillos.  The prickly pear were exploding with their sunny blossoms, even tiny lizards darted from plant to plant hoping for shelter from the blazing sun.  As I returned to my hotel, I saw young foals nuzzling their mothers as the sun set quietly crept through the valley like a ghost.


    I needed this adventure as an affirmation that, in spite of my challenges with OA, and the subsequent “screwups” during my October hip replacement surgery, I CAN accept a few limitations, and I can also accept challenges and frustrations.  My life has become one of acceptance most of the time—I’m a problem-solver, and most importantly for me, I’m an explorer and an adventurer.  I won’t let OA take me down!

Published On: May 14, 2007