Friday, April 18, 2008

Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Yesterday, I drove from Bozeman to Portland. It was a gorgeous drive. I traveled from Bozeman, north and west, following the curvature of the western border of Montana. (This to get around the the spine of the rockies between the border of Montana and Idaho that nearly killed the Lewis and Clark expedition at Lolo Pass, near Missoula.)

From there, I crossed the panhandle of Idaho at Coeur D'Alene. My God... if it weren't for all the white supremacist, neo-nazis and militia types, I could totally live there.

It is a fantastic lake, set in a gorgeous alpine setting. Seriously, it is beautiful. Plus, hey, no darkies or brown people.


Then, it was through Spokane, Washington, and south into eastern Oregon. Eastern Oregon is mostly desert, although I did pass a monster vineyard that stretched for a mile.

After a couple hours of high desert, I eventually entered the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia is a mighty, mighty river.

It's too bad that they dammed the holy hell out of that river. I passed (I think) four dams spanning the river. I bet less that 1% of the original salmon population actually makes it up river.

When I say mighty, I am talking damn (not dam) near a mile across, with the wind ripping so hard up the canyon that there were whitecaps cresting in the opposite direction that the river was flowing.

There were windsurfers out there, just ripping. The walls of the gorge got wider and taller, and wider and taller.

As I traveled west, hugging the river, I passed through multiple state parks, waterfalls and incredible vistas.

There was some type of tree (crabapple?) that was in full bloom, with small, white flowers blazing.

As I approached the town of Hood River, the sky was clear and Mount Hood stood as a solitary sentinel over the gorge.

I have been in the gorge a dozen times, but this is the first time I have written about it.

It is really a special place.

What caused me to take notice was the lushness of it all. Montana is a fairly arid place, and the landscape is mountainous, but the lower elevations are yellow and the foliage is largely coniferous.

In Oregon, on the slopes of Mount Hood, there are rainforests, and deciduous trees. The trunks of these trees are covered with leafy vines and there is moss everywhere.

Tulips here are in full bloom, while at 4500 feet elevation back in Bozeman, only the green tips of the tulips are tasting the the sunshine.

Eventually, I rolled into the city of Portland and made my way to my sister's house. As you can see by the pictures, nobody was in a particularly somber mood. Check out little Joey. He's taking after his uncle and namesake.

A bit ballsy, that. My dad's name is Joseph also. Not to say that my dad (Joey's grandpa) doesn't rock... because he surely does. I mean, shit, he begat The Duder here.

But this... this is my stage move.

At this point, you'd probably like to know about the star of the show, Lucy. She had her 11th (I think) heart surgery today. They went in through veins in her legs and went up into the left and right side of her heart with these snake-like cameras and instruments.

A big concern was the main trunk of her pulmonary artery, which is partially constructed from Gore-Tex. They were able to snake in there and put in a stent, which is like a chicken-wire fingercuff thing that they then inflated a balloon inside of to stretch out her pulmonary artery, deflate that ballon and then leave the chicken-wire thing in place, allowing the flow of oxygenated blood into her lung, keeping it, and her, alive.

On the way, they also checked out one of her heart valves, which is also an issue, as well as her peripheral pulmonary arteries. They need to keep an eye on the valve, which leaks, and eventually replace it, and the peripheral arteries looked good.

She won't need another surgery for about ten years, until she is full grown.

So, damn.

God clearly is looking out for this kid.