Friday, August 24, 2012

Those Who Wait, Also Serve

The reason that Dave decided to accept a job 1,500 from hearth and home was to earn and save some money for our retirement, so he’s been on the lookout for inexpensive forms of entertainment. In a recent blog I told about his love of bike riding so he was pleased that Mike, the gentleman with whom he is living, as keen to get his bikes in working order and go riding with him. They even have added a third man to their bicycle jaunts. On rainy days Dave goes to the movies, using his senior discount. He also has cards for two libraries where he checks out CDs. In addition to that he has gone hiking on a wide variety of trails every week since he arrived in Prescott, AZ. I was uncomfortable about yesterdays plan from the beginning.

Around 9 AM Dave called me from Granite Mt. He said that he was not at the top, but that the trail did not go that far and he had already gone on beyond the end of the trail and that he was going to head back to the car. He said that it would be slow going because he had to climb over some boulder. I had a friend in for tea yesterday morning and so I was diverted for about an hour, but after my friend left I started thinking about Dave and wishing that the phone would ring. To keep busy and because I knew it needed to be done I went shopping for my nearly 90-year-old-mother and did some chores around her apartment while watching the end of a Gene Kelly movie on TCM. What I did not know was that around nine fifteen, minutes after I had had a good connection and conversation with Dave, when he told me he was going to turn around and head back the three and a half miles to the car, he had fallen. His foot slipped on a boulder and he heard a pop in his leg. His shoulder was sore, but instead of call 9-1-1 he decided to walk out. His leg did not hurt, but depending on how he turned it he collapsed. For some reason this was not enough for my hardheaded nearly sixty-one year old husband. He got himself up, dusted himself off and soldiered on. He would later tell me that before being reached by help he fell twelve times. Two of those falls were into cacti.

At eleven fifteen I tried to call Dave again. Although we had had a good connection at 9 AM now I got no answer so I texted Are you okay. At eleven nineteen he texted that he was working his way down the trail. I said, okay. I asked if he wanted me to call someone, was he lost, did he need assistance. What I did not know was that a hiker had contacted Search & Rescue in the area on another call and they had made contact with Dave at eleven thirty. Later he said that he was trying to prevent me from getting upset. No news is not good news. No news is no news and I began to think of another incident that earned Dave the family name of Dangerous Dave.

It was the summer of 1998. We had a large family gathering at our house in Ilwaco, WA. Everyone save Dave, who was still asleep, had walked to the port to go to breakfast and when we returned our station wagon and his kayak were gone. He left behind a note saying he would be back by 4 PM for our family barbecue. He also left behind his wallet. At five o’clock I began to get irritated as we needed to be getting dinner under way. At six I began to get upset. A friend and I drove out to the Willapa Wild Life Refuge and found the car at the boat ramp where he had gone into Willapa Bay, but no sign of Dave. A couple came in with their kayak, but they had not seen Dave. I was distressed to see that the tide was out and knew that the bay bed became muck and envisioned him stuck and sinking in the mud. I think my imagination was working over time.

We drove the ten miles back home and I called the Pacific County Sheriff who went and looked at the car, too. A lot of help that did. Finally, my father, who was an old Navy man, called the Coast Guard and suggested that they take their helicopter from Astoria and see if they could spot Dave and whether or not he was in trouble. At round 8 PM my father called them back and demanded that they look for Dave as it was beginning to get dark. My uncle stood vigil on our porch, his face turned in the direction we expected him to come. About eight thirty the sheriff’s department called to say that Dave had come into the boat launch and was on the way home, just moments before the Coast Guard helicopter was to leave Astoria to search for him. Dave was incredulous that we had called the Coast Guard even though he was five hours over due. The escapade earned him the moniker Dangerous Dave and my calling the Coast Guard became a threat I issued any time he went off in the kayak or out hiking or biking.

At noon yesterday I drove the six blocks back to our Ilwaco house to fix my daughter Amy some lunch. The headache that had begun around 10 AM had gotten its legs and I told my mother that I was going to eat lunch with Amy and lay down. I figured that any moment I would hear from Dave that he was back at his car and headed home to shower and maybe go to a movie. A little after twelve I texted Dave asking if I needed to call the Coast Guard. I was only half joking because I did not see how it could have taken him three hours to make a trip down that took one to go up. I followed that text up with one asking to confirm if it was Granite Mt. he was on. I got no response. At twelve twenty I texted and asked for his exact location. Twenty minutes later he answered that he was on Granite Mt. trail #261. I asked if he was okay. Nothing. I knew that nap was out of the question so I began organizing our recycles, something that I had to do before heading back to Gig Harbor, and drove them to the port recycling. That done I returned to my mothers, hoping that another Gene Kelly movie would distract me.

Just before 1 PM I texted and asked if he wanted me to call the authorities or if he needed assistance. He replied that he had assistance. I was both relieved and upset. I was relieved that he was not alone, but upset that he needed assistance. I asked him if he were hurt. An hour later I asked again. When I still got no response I called a friend who was at work and asked her to find out what county Prescott was in and then get me the number of the sheriff’s department. I wended my way to a dispatcher who told me that indeed they had dispatched Search & Rescue to assist a man with an injured leg and that about twenty minutes previous they had been in contact with Search & Rescue and that they were a mile from the end of the trail and that if I had not heard from him in an hour I could call back and get a status update.

Fortunately at three twenty-five Dave called me from Yavapai Regional Medical Center to say he was waiting to be x-rayed. He asked me to call Group Health in Tacoma and find out how to get this adventure covered with our insurance, which I was happy to do, but then had a two hour wait to find out exactly what had happened. He had torn his right quad and sprained his right shoulder and was headed to the pharmacy for some meds. This morning he feels worse than yesterday and is working with Lockheed HQ to get short term disability so he can come home and see our doctor. Dave was already scheduled to come home for twelve days beginning on the 1st of September.

I had two Honey Do lists going for Dave, one for Gig Harbor and one for Ilwaco. Yesterday they shrunk to nothing, but at least he is alive and I am hoping to very soon have him home in Gig Harbor for some R&R. Dangerous Dave is off the trail for a while.

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