Friday, June 28, 2013

Crazy Week

Last week was super crazy in so many ways. First off the Corolla hit 100,000 miles and both Patrick and I had anniversaries at our jobs: 2 years for him, 7 for me. Patrick also connected with his estranged sister Jenny after 15 years of no contact, my dad had extensive surgery on his spine and a major storm went through the Twin Cities. From the storm we lost power for 36 hours and our neighbor's box elder tree fell into our yard. I am not sure we could pack any more into a five day period.

On Wednesday June 19th, my dad had surgery on his spine. In January he slipped on the ice and hurt his back. At first it wasn't too bad, but eventually he started to feel numbness from the chest down. After many trips the doctor they finally figured out that is spine was shrinking and his vertebrae was pushing on his spinal cord. They would need to put six inches of titanium rods in his vertebrae to get the bone away from his spinal cord and hopefully fix the numbness.

The surgery was scheduled at 6:45am in Rochester at St. Mary's Hospital. I went down for the day to hang out with my mom while the surgery was in progress as it was supposed to be a 6 hour procedure. I arrived at the hospital around 8:00am and my parents were still waiting for them to start. There were a couple emergencies that kept pushing back my dad's surgery, so he didn't end up going into surgery until 1pm, they started the anesthesia at 2:30pm and the actual surgery started at 4:00pm. To kill some time my mom and I walked to the Mayo Building and looked at some of the art there. They have quite the extensive collection. It was pretty cool to see. My dad ended up getting out of surgery at 8:30pm and was in recovery for a couple hours so we finally got to see him around 10:30pm. We talked to my dad a while before we went to bed. He was pretty with it considering the amount of drugs he was on. I am so glad we were able to see and talk to him, it gave us both a huge sense of relief that the actual surgery was over. Since it was so late when we finally saw him both my mom and I ended up staying at the hospital overnight. My mom slept in my dad's ICU room and I slept in the waiting room.

As soon as those doctors know you are doing well, they start pushing you to get moving. An occupational therapist was in his room right away in the morning. She had him sitting on the side of the bed less than 24 hours after surgery. He was released from the ICU before lunch and transferred to a regular room. Once he was in his regular room, the physical therapist showed up and that's when did his first walk. He walked 200 yards on his first attempt. Pretty good. He was still in a ton of pain in his neck, but he really is a pretty good patient. We would adjust his bed and his pillows to make things more comfortable, but really if you had two titanium rods and thirteen screws in your neck I doubt you would feel very good either. Later that night my brothers, Patrick, Nickie & Ben came to visit. We all left around 8pm to head home. At this point we didn't know when my dad would be released, but my mom was pretty optimistic that it would be Saturday. My dad did have a scare in the hospital that night with an irregular heartbeat, but after confirmation from the doctors it was determined to be a normal side effect of the surgery.

On Friday my dad was given the goal of sitting in his chair five times and going on five walks. He managed to do that and he was eventually released to go home on Saturday. He is still on quite a bit of medication at home, but he is getting out on walks and moving around. I hope the rest of his recovery goes smoothly and the surgery helps him regain feeling in his legs.

Dad's Spine Surgery

On the left is a MRI photo of his spinal cord before the surgery. At the point where the white spinal cord disappears is where the vertebrae is pinching his cord. The photo on the right is a x-ray of his neck after they inserted the rods and screws to pull the vertebrae away from his spinal cord.

Dad's Before and After

And this is Dad before the surgery and on his first walk after surgery.

Dad's Spine Surgery

On Friday June 21st we were planning on relaxing after a hectic three days. Both Patrick and I immediately took a nap when we got home from work. When we woke up it was around 7pm and it looked as though a storm was coming through. My brother Luke texted to say he was on his way since he was staying with us that night. By the time he got here it was a really bad storm: the tops of the trees were swaying back and forth and rain was going sideways. We even decided to go to the basement, we never go to the basement. In that 10 minutes we also lost power, a tree from our neighbor's yard fell into our yard and rain water started leaking into the bathroom through the vent. What a lovely way to end the week.

At this point the storm was over and we hadn't eaten dinner. So, the three of us ventured out to find somewhere to grab dinner. It was crazy how some places had full power and others didn't. We ended up getting Leann Chin's and brought it home to eat in candlelight. We went to bed shortly after dinner as there isn't much else you can do without power after dark.

Downed Tree

In the morning we assessed the damage. We still had no power and the tree was still down. The water stopped dripping right after the rain, so we were just left with a stain on the ceiling. The tree took down a section of the fence, but missed the shed so we were really lucky that was all the damage. We went off to Elysia and Nick's to enjoy Long Island Iced Daze for the day, but on Sunday Patrick and Adam worked really hard to get the tree cleaned up. Our power finally came back on Sunday morning around 11am as well, right after I moved our food to coolers. Oh well at least I got the fridge cleaned out.

Downed Tree - June 21, 2013

Downed Tree

Downed Tree - June 21, 2013

Downed Tree - June 21, 2013

Downed Tree

Downed Tree - Adam

Downed Tree

And here is our yard all cleaned up. We also got the stain out off the ceiling by spraying a bleach water mixture on the stain for a few days in a row. So although those five days were crazy, things could have been much worse.

Downed Tree After

Monday, June 24, 2013

June Recap

Well, June is almost over and I haven't updated since our Memorial Day trip. I will try to do a quick recap of the past month as I love to look back on this later. This was not technically in June, but on Friday May 31st Patrick's Aunt Jean and Uncle John were in the cities so we had them over for dinner. We grilled steaks and enjoyed a beautiful night on the deck.

On Sunday June 2nd, we celebrated my nephew Ben's 3rd Birthday. It was fun to watch him actually understand the cake and the presents this year. Also, hilarious was Patrick and Ben playing together. Ben used Patrick as his jungle gym for an extended period of time and Ben loved it. I think Patrick might be Ben's favorite. As soon as he saw me at the party he asked where Uncle Patrick was.

Ben with birthday cake

George, Ben & Brittany

Ben, Sara & Patrick

On Wednesday, June 12th Kasie, Shanna, Kate & I decided to take the day off to enjoy a summer day in the middle of the week. The morning ended up being a total washout and our plans of having lunch on Lake Minnetonka were no longer. We ended up going to the Foxy Falafel in St. Paul, walking around Grand Avenue and going to happy hour at WA Frost. The rain cleared out for happy hour so we were at least able to spend some time outside at the awesome WA Frost patio.

WA Frost Happy Hour

The next day we got our first CSA box of the season. This is our fourth year having a CSA and our third with Driftless Organics. We still love it and every year it seems easier and easier to come up with different ways to use the vegetables.

2013-06-13

And then on Friday we headed to the Twins game with Nathan, Nickie and Luke. We also met up with Kate, Jeff and Kate's mom at the game. I have no idea who won or what the score was, but it was a beautiful non rainy night so we all had a good time.

2013-06-14

The last week has been crazy with a variety of events so I will do a separate post later this week on that.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Superior Hiking Trail - Finland Rec Center to Beaver Bay

Over Memorial Day weekend Patrick and I headed to the North Shore for the second weekend in a row. We were supposed to go on this backpacking trip at the end of April, but it was still snowing then so we changed our plans and moved the trip to Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday morning we left our house at 5:00am to catch the shuttle by 9:00am. Without any traffic the trip was pretty quick and we even had time to stop in Duluth before we had to be in Beaver Bay. We arrived in the parking lot and we were concerned it might be a very busy weekend on the trail. Luckily, most people weren't riding the shuttle and they were going the south from Beaver Bay, while we were starting 30 miles away at the Finland Rec Center and then heading south.

We arrived at the Finland Rec Center and started our three day, thirty mile trek back to Beaver Bay. The first six miles went really well. We ended up stopping at one the campsites for lunch and met a couple there who was there with their five month old baby. They weren't doing an extensive trip, but they did plan to go day hiking the next day and it was a mile hike in from the closest parking lot so it was quite the adventure for them.

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

Patrick and Sara

Superior Hiking Trail

The next six miles were not nearly as enjoyable as the first six. Patrick had been battling a cold all week and it was starting to wear on him. He was also carrying a very heavy backpack. His pack weighed 43 pounds, while mine was much closer to 30 pounds. We were also on one of the more difficult areas of the trail, lots of rocky hills to climb up and down, so with 3 miles left I offered to switch bags with him. It didn't seem bad at first, but by the time we actually arrived at Kennedy Creek I was ready to be done. We both were.

Since I have done this backpacking thing a few times now I feel like I am a lot more help around camp. I set up the tent, while Patrick got the fire going. One of the reasons Patrick's bag was so heavy was because we decided to bring hobo dinners instead of dried food. Apparently the fire pit was a big mud pit, so we are very lucky the fire was going long enough to heat up the food. Dinner was definitely the highlight of the day, precooked chicken sausage with a variety of hearty vegetables really hit the spot.

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail - Kennedy Creek

Hobo Dinner

Superior Hiking Trail

On Sunday morning we woke up and took our time getting everything packed up. We ate our oatmeal in the sunshine, repacked our bags and taped up our blisters before heading out again. We also modified our plan for the day and decided that 8.5 miles would be a good amount of hiking for the day.

Superior Hiking Trail - Oatmeal

Our first cool site of the day was seeing Wolf Lake near Tettegouche State Park. Patrick had hiked this part with Rickard last spring and I remembered seeing this lake in his photos and thinking it would be awesome to see in person.

Superior Hiking Trail - Wolf Lake

Superior Hiking Trail

We also hiked through High Falls on the Baptism River in Tettegouche State Park again. Patrick and I did a hike from the State Park Visitor Center a couple years ago in August. Crazy how different the falls can look in later summer versus spring.

SHT - High Falls

Superior Hiking Trail

SHT - High Falls

Shortly after High Falls we stopped for a snack at these very cool trees.

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

Around 6pm we arrived at the East Palisade campsite. Again we lucked out and no one else was camping there, so it was just us. Our dinner that night also relied on a campfire, so Patrick got to work on the fire while I set up the tent, got water from the creek and filtered the water. Our dinner for the night was frozen burritos. Also probably very heavy to be carrying on your back for 20.5 miles.

Superior Hiking Trail

SHT - East Palisade Campsite

SHT - East Palisade Campsite

On Monday morning we were rudely awakened when Patrick found a tick crawling around in our tent. Yuck. We made our oatmeal and packed up for the day. There were two more beautiful lake overlooks that day as well. We stopped at the Bear Lake overlook for some snacks. From the overlook you could also see Bean Lake.

Superior Hiking Trail

SHT - Bear Lake

SHT - Bean Lake

And here is where we started our trip from last fall. We were originally going to do another section of the trail, but because a bridge was out we ended up having to redo a section we did together and a section Patrick did with Rickard.

Superior Hiking Trail

SHT - Deer

On Monday night we had two options for a campsite and unfortunately they both had people occupying them. The first was with a family of four, so we ventured on and stopped at the next one North Beaver River. We decided to stay at the North Beaver River site. The guy who was there was not very friendly. The campfire was meticulously set up and the branches were organized by size. We assumed he had done that and we ruined his plans. Only after Patrick made more organized piles and we were almost done eating did we see the guy to ask him if we could start a fire. He said all the fire stuff was there when he got there. So we went about our business and made a fire.

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

SHT - Orzo Soup

Superior Hiking Trail

SHT - Sara

Patrick with Marshmellow Glove

On Tuesday morning we headed to our car. The hike to our car ended up being less than a mile. We were both very excited to not be carrying our backpacks anymore. On our trip home we ended up stopping at numerous eating establishments. First stop was a gas station for chocolate, then Lou's Fish House for smoked salmon and trout (something we planned to do last weekend), then to Pizza Luce for lunch and finally a stop at Tobie's in Hinckley for a pecan roll.