Troutstream Western Headquarters
|Our beloved Maggie|
There are some days when reality will hit you like a punch to the face. On our recent trip to Colorado, I learned firsthand that everything you hold dear can be ripped from you in an instant. After wallowing in the disappointment of a cancelled Airstream trip to the Dakotas, a near tragic event happened that made me truly appreciate all that I have. While I have never taken anything for granted in life, this was a shock to my system. This event showed me that I possessed poise and strength for my family when they needed it. Most of all, this event taught me in real terms the fragility of life. Enough with the melodrama. Here is what happened.
The summer was slowly creeping toward an abrupt and unwelcome end. Melizza and I had planned a trip to the Dakotas in August. Our plans became increasingly ambitious as we expanded the trip to allow the kids a week at our family condo in Colorado. Sometimes careful planning goes by the wayside when confronted with the demands of work. A couple of weeks ago, I had to cancel our trip to the Dakotas due to the launch of project at work that I am responsible for.
I really shouldn't complain. This has been a great travel year with trips to Europe and Chicago along with Airstream trips that took us from the Florida Panhandle to the dunes of Michigan. We are far from done with Airstream travel this year but it is always disappointing when you carefully plan a trip months in advance only to see it fade away. It pained me to cancel my reservations at Custer State Park. My kids will not see the herds of bison or experience the unexpected beauty in the Black Hills and the Badlands of South Dakota. I love the adventure of the open road and have a strong desire to drive westward.
Even though I cancelled the Airstream trip, I was unwilling to deny my kids the opportunity to spend a summer week in Colorado. So we left the Airstream and the Sequoia at home and hopped in the van for a long drive to Colorado. Dillon, Colorado is boring twenty hour drive from Dayton, Ohio. I rode my bike to work on a Friday morning. I figured a nice sixteen mile ride early in the morning would calm me down before a long drive. Melizza picked me up at work in the late afternoon and we drove and drove all through the night until we caught a glimpse of the Rocky Mountains rising from the barren landscape of eastern Colorado. My kids have travelled to our family townhouse in Colorado numerous times but they have never made the journey by car or visited in the summer.
What should have been a great morning quickly turned into a living nightmare. We arrived to a postcard perfect summer day in the Rocky Mountains. The sun was shining and the mountains of the Ten Mile Range were visible in all their splendor. Our family condo sits on a bluff above the marina on Lake Dillon. Our unit is on the third and fourth floors and the parking area sits below the first floor. As we exited the elevator and opened our front door, I began carrying suitcases in to our home.
While I was inside, I heard Ethan scream that our dog Maggie had jumped off the deck. I ran outside in a panic only to hear Maggie cry out. I was almost afraid to look over the edge as I knew that the drop was a precipitous thirty feet or more onto asphalt. As I looked down, I saw Maggie lying on her side with a pool of blood surrounding her head. It was so horrifying that I was unable to scream and was momentarily paralyzed with fear. Maggie had jumped onto a three foot high wall and had either fallen or leaped over it. Melizza and the kids were hysterical. I ran down the stairs thinking that I would be facing the unthinkable and most likely comforting my treasured companion in her last moments on this Earth. It is difficult to write about this as the thought of that moment still makes me cringe.
I arrived down below to find Maggie lying on her side. She was conscious and lying still. I kneeled down beside her fighting back the tears so that I could comfort her and assess the damage. Her breathing and heart rate were normal. I gingerly placed my arms around her and stroked her fur. I whispered to her that I was here for her and that I love her. I looked her over and saw no immediate signs of broken legs or hips. I couldn't determine where the blood had come from. In a matter of seconds people descended upon me from the bike path below and from the building above. Someone brought me a roll of paper towels so that I could wipe away the blood. There was so much that I didn't know how she could survive. I will never forget that smell. While all this was going on, I could hear the heart wrenching cries of my wife and children from three floors above.
After sitting for a couple of minutes with Maggie in a state of shock, one of my neighbors suggested that I stand up to see what she does. I was afraid that she wouldn't be able to walk and would cry out in pain. To my surprise Maggie stood up and walked eight or ten feet with no discernible limp to a shady spot adjacent to the building. I asked my neighbor to retrieve my wife and try to calm her down so that I could take Maggie to the Animal Hospital. I don't think you can call 911 for a dog fall. Melizza and the kids made their way down to the parking lot. I could not shield them from the pain and the fear but I was able to stay strong for them. Melizza pulled the van around and the boys and I rushed Maggie to the vet. To our amazement, she hopped into the van and jumped onto her favorite seat. Ethan clung tightly to her on the fifteen minute drive to Breckenridge. I had called ahead so they would be ready for us.
All of the beauty of Colorado that I travelled so far for meant nothing while facing a crisis like this. When we arrived at the Animal Hospital, Maggie jumped out of the car and was acting surprisingly normal despite the blood still clinging to her fur. In the waiting room, she was sniffing the other animals as if she didn't just fall thirty feet from a deck. We were quickly escorted into the examination room. One thing I will say about Colorado is that they have incredible vets. Everyone has a dog and what kind of vet wouldn't want to live out here? After examining Maggie, we learned that she had no broken legs, no internal bleeding, no chipped teeth or any other major injury. Her one injury and the source of all that blood were a few lacerations in her nose. The doctor put her on anti-inflammatory medication and told me to call him if anything abnormal occurred in the next twenty four hours. Once I knew that she was all right, I released all of my pent up emotions in a blitzkrieg of tears. I cannot say enough about the quality people that helped my family in Dillon and Breckenridge. I am truly grateful for all of the help my family received.
|Tears of relief and joy|
Maggie was back to her old self as soon as we arrived back in Dillon. We will be traumatized for life and are so thankful that we did not lose our precious Maggie that day. I later learned that she was likely trying to hop the railing to dive after hummingbirds. They were flying between the treetops and the bird feeders on many of the decks. From Maggie's perspective, she was just hopping a fence to dive after a bird. I sat on the deck with a leashed Maggie and proceeded to have a beer or three while watching the sailboats on the lake.
|Maggie and Melizza after the fall|
|Maggie looking back to see what I am up to the next morning|
|Beautiful Lake Dillon and the Ten Mile Mountain Range|
On Sunday, we travelled northeast to Grand Lake, Colorado at the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. Despite many trips to Colorado, Melizza and the kids have never visited the park. We drove on the breathtaking Trail Loop Road more than 50 miles across the park to Estes Park on the east side. Much of the road is above the timber line. Lunch was a picnic at 12,000 feet. The highlight of the trip was a close up view of grazing elk in a high meadow. This was also an opportunity for us to scout some of the campgrounds within the national park. There are so many great hiking trails within the park that we absolutely will return next summer to explore the park. After exiting the park, we visited the Stanley Hotel. This hotel is famous as the inspiration for Stephen King's book "The Shining." We had a nice dinner in Boulder before I had to fly back home for work.
|Grand Lake Lodge|
|The Never Summer Mountain Range behind me|
|Maggie lived for this moment. Please don't go after the elk!|
|The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado|
|She will be spoiled for life|
As a looked out the window of the plane at the Rocky Mountains to the west, I was already missing my family but comforted by the fact that they are all together and healthy. Never take anything for granted. Life is precious. Go hug your dog for me. I can always take another Airstream trip but I will never have another dog like Maggie.