Dad’s Echocardiogram

As many of you know my Dad recently moved to Reno. His house in Escondido, California is for sale. He was staying with Duke and I while he waited for an apartment to open up at Classic Residence by Hyatt. A beautiful apartment overlooking the courtyard became available a couple of weeks ago and he is now moved in and settled. It is really nice having him near by.

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Dad has been working to get established with new doctors in Reno. Last week he found a cardiologist who he likes.  On Tuesday he had an echo-cardiogram. I went with him and got to stand behind the technician while she used the machine to look at his heart. The echo-cardiogram machine looked a lot like like the ultrasound machines used on pregnant women to check on their unborn babies. As teh technician placed the wand on Dad’s heart you could see it quite clearly.

Looking at Dad’s heart as it pumped was so cool. I could see the valves opening and closing like the swinging doors in an old western saloon. Dad’s heart on the screen was about 6 inches long and 3 inches across. I assumed that it was life size but she told me that the picture was enlarged. The upper heart chamber is only about 5 centimeters (2 inches) across. It is impressive to think of such a little organ pumping blood all through his body.

I would love to have worked on the software for the echo-cardiogram machine. My first programming job out of college was working on air traffic control software. I found it fascinating. I suspect that interpreting the bouncing sound waves for the echo-cardiogram is similar to interpreting radar returns for air traffic control. The software has to interpret the returns, display them, and give the operator the tools to analyze what she is seeing.  What a wonderful challenge.

Sierra Canyon Snowshoeing at Prosser Creek Reservoir

We had a big storm over the weekend. At our house in west Reno we got about 8 inches of new snow and up around Truckee they got about 2 or 3 feet of new powder. In the middle of the storm Friday night the power went out for about 3 hours. It was kind of fun to sit around listening to a battery operated radio and knit by candle light.

It was above freezing all day yesterday so the snow has pretty much melted off the roads. In spite of the relatively warm weather it was gray and windy all weekend. This morning the skies had cleared and the sun was shining. It looked like a great day for snowshoeing.

Seven of us met at the lodge and headed up to Tuckee. We got off of Interstate 80 and headed north on highway 89. The plan was to park and hike along Sagehen Creek but the snow was high on each side of the road and there was really no place to park .

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So we headed back south and found a side road that was sort of plowed. We parked and snowshoed in a big loop along the edge of Prosser Creek Reservoir. This was the first time I have snowshoed in really deep new snow. When I was in the lead and breaking trail I would sink in about two feet with each step. It was fun but also was very hard work.  When I was following other people who had packed down the snow the hiking was so much easier.

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We were only out for a couple of hours and our big loop was about a mile but as you can see it was a beautiful day. It was quite a work out. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. If you would like to see the rest of my pictures from today you can see them here. 

Sierra Canyon Snow Shoe Trip to Matrimony Ridge

I have had a really busy year so far but yesterday I finally got to go on another snow shoe hike with the Sierra Canyon Hiking Group. My last snow shoeing expedition to Andesite Peak on New Years day was wonderful but the trip to Matrimony Ridge yesterday was just as good or better. The book Snowshoe Trails of Tahoe: Best Routes in the Tahoe Sierra By Mike White Has a great description of this trip.

The trail head was near the Kingvale exit off of Interstate 80. We parked under the freeway and snow shoed south about 2.75 miles and 1000 feet of elevation gain. It didn’t seem too hard and the scenery was fantastic. The weather was great too. In fact I was almost too warm.

At the top we sat on some rocks and had lunch before heading down.

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If you would like to see all of my pictures from the trip you can see them here.

Winter Travels

We made it home from Iowa Tuesday night. The trip reminded me of the good things and the bad things about Midwest winters and how difficult traveling in the Midwest in the winter can be. On Monday we drove to the Ceder Rapids airport and Duke returned the rental car while I lugged the bags inside. When I got to the airline counter the lady informed me that all flights out were canceled and that driving to another airport Like Des Moines or O’Hare wouldn’t help because the whole area was having the same fog problems. We changed the reservations for the same flight on Tuesday and rented a new car from a different company because National now said they were out of cars even though we had just turned ours in and obviously no one was going to be coming in to the closed airport to rent a car!

On Tuesday it looked like planes were flying even though it was snowing pretty hard by the time we left for Cedar Rapids. We arrived at the Eastern Iowa Airport and optimistically checked in. The flight from Cedar Rapids to Dallas was scheduled to be on a small three seat across jet. We flew in on the same kind of plane. It holds about 40 people but the cabin is so small that Duke can’t stand up straight in the aisle. I was surprised when we boarded the plane pretty much on time. There was snow and ice on the windows and wings so I was glad when they started to spray orange stuff to de-ice the plane. But then pilot announced that there was bad weather in Dallas so we would be waiting in Cedar Rapids for about an hour until air traffic control let us take off. After an hour of sitting on the plane on the ground watching more ice  and snow build up on the wings I was getting more and more nervous. I was sure that we would again have the flight canceled. But instead they started to de-ice us again and the pilot started to taxi out to the runway.

The de-icing process used two liquids one orange and the other a green gel like substance.  As we taxied to the runway the second green gel substance was still on the wings. Apparently it is supposed to stop new ice from forming on the wings even though it was still snowing pretty hard. At the end of the runway the pilot announced that air traffic control wanted us to wait another 5 minutes. Five minutes later he announced that it would be another five minute. The green gel on the wings seemed to be doing its job but I was expecting the next announcement to be that we were going back to the terminal to de-ice again or perhaps even to have the flight canceled again. Instead after five more minutes we pulled out onto the runway and started down the runway to takeoff. As we built up speed the green gel was flowing off the wings. I suppose it was my imagination but it sure  seemed like we took a very long time to build up enough speed and lift to get off the runway. In spite of my worries we made it.

We kept climbing. It was pretty bumpy but eventually we got through the turbulence and clouds . The blue sky and sun above the clouds was wonderful. I don’t think we saw the sun the whole time we were in Iowa except maybe on the first day when the temperature was -4 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind chill was -25. That was bone chilling cold.

We were about 90 minutes late getting into Dallas. We had to rush to make our Reno flight. But we made it and arrived home in Reno safely about 9:30 pm.

The good things about winter in the Midwest include the fun you can have doing things like sledding and snow man building

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The first picture is of Duke and his nephew, Paul, racing. The next picture is of Duke and me getting ready to race. The snowmen are Wilbur and Fred built by Paul and Vicky.

I was inspired to write this post after reading the blog post Thirty Below on the Flight Level 390 blog.  Dave who writes Flight Level 390 is a commercial pilot and a very talented writer. His blog is well worth reading regularly. Thirty Below is about what it took to get out of Edmonton recently.

I’ve been home four days and I’m leaving again tomorrow. Dad and I are driving the truck back to Escondido. We are going to pick up another load of his stuff. My sister B is flying in to Escondido Thursday night. The three of us will then drive Dad’s van and our truck, loaded to the gills, back north to Reno. Dad moves in to his new apartment on Saturday.