Dear Friends and Family,
June 12, 2007
We left this morning for a month-long road trip to Utah and, on the way back, southern Colorado.
At least that’s the plan. We have reserved camping spots at
Basin State Park, just east of Bryce Canyon National Park, and in Kanab, where we are
scheduled for five days of volunteer work at
Best Friends Animal Society’s
sanctuary, the largest animal sanctuary in this country. On the way, we’ll revisit
Colorado National Monument and
Capital Reef National Park. Coming home,
we are planning to retrace part of the route across southern Colorado Hughes rode his bike on
the Ride the Rockies
trip last year.
Of course we could not leave today until Judy got
the green light yesterday from her very close friend for the past
year: Dr. John Fleagle, oncologist.
This month marks one year since Judy’s cancer surgery. After her quarterly
scans and tests, yesterday her oncologist declared she continues to be cancer-free. We feel great
relief that her vigorous and aggressive efforts to stand up to and fight this disease, both mentally
and physically, have not been in vain, though with cancer one can never be sure of cause and effect.
However, she has gained inspiration and information from a variety of groups, seminars, books, and
articles from a variety of sources. The outpouring of support and encouragement from friends and
family everywhere this past year has been a source of great strength.
Though she’s always eaten sensibly, Judy’s changed her diet this past
year. She has gone sugar-free (cancer seems to feed off sugars). She avoids most white foods,
especially white flour and white rice. She’s added some exotic seeds and supplements to
her semi-vegetarian diet (no brown-eyed four legged creatures on her plate). Her weight has been
stable and she looks terrific.
Judy has continued to run throughout the winter as weather permitted and into spring,
though she was not able to train fot the Bolder Boulder 10K with her usual training club. In addition
to two weeks in Italy, a “near stress fracture” of her tibia and plantar fasciitis pain
interrupted her preparation program. However, she did have about six weeks to get ready for one of the
country’s premier running events in which she has dominated her age group each of the 13 times
she’s participated. Her focus, determination, and mental toughness preparing to compete at the
highest level may have been the most significant factor in her fight against the cancer. (See results
How appropriate that we should have hosted a visit in May by the woman who, over 20
years ago, got Judy interested in, and, ultimately hooked on running. Jill Calcamuggio, a fellow
medical technologist who worked many years with Judy at Toledo’s Riverside Hospital lab,
encouraged Judy not only to run during lunch breaks but, more importantly, got her to begin running
competitively in the Toledo area. Jill continues to run though she acknowledged that running in Ohio
is much easier than running at altitude in Colorado. Her visit was short but we enjoyed walking in
the Flatirons (see photo on right) and on the Pearl Street mall in Boulder.
Throughout the past three months we have both helped to make our “family”
of physicians, surgeons, dentists, and therapists among the wealthiest in Boulder County. Only
Judy’s student acupuncturists offer their benefits gratis, though they are equally
valued for the services they perform. Reviewing each week of our spring calendar reminds us of the
many trips (4–5 per week) we have made to Boulder to keep our teeth, skin, knees, feet, muscles,
joints, and bones as fit as can be expected for old people. Even Sophie and Bella made brief visits
to their vet’s office this winter. Thanks
to good veterinarian care, the pair remains vigilant in their pursuit of rabbits and squirrels,
protective of their territory against predatory deer and coyotes, and gentle toward their owners who
rely upon them to make them smile and to take regular short hikes each day.
SPRINGTIME IN THE ROCKIES
Spring in our part of the world is not as attractive as romantic imagery would have
you believe—you know, the renewal of life, earth reawakening, the first budding of flowers and
the greening of lawns, warm sunshine, a young man’s heart....., and the passing of winter cold.
These things do happen here, but much closer to summer than spring. The aspens don’t leaf out
up here until late May; wild pasqueflowers emerge in April, but most other flowers appear in June;
the hummers returned early (this year) in late April and we’re not sure if any local or
returning birds have had their young yet. Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park was closed
for two days just last week due to a blizzard and snow drifts, and there was widespread snow in the
high county (above 10,000') this past week. Local snowbirds don’t usually come back from Tucson
or southern California until well after Memorial Day.
The dominant feature of our spring is MUD! It sticks to everything, turning dirt roads
slick and dogs’ paws filthy; carpets and floors need regular cleaning and folks are more likely
to take their shoes off in the entry; ditches overfill with snowmelt and shaded woods retain their
snow patches until June. People get cranky and feel put upon. It’s a time, frankly, when lots
of mountain folk would rather be somewhere else.
Somewhere Else: Italy
We found real spring in early April in northern Italy, a trip we thoroughly enjoyed.
Those of you interested in more detail can go to our
Italy web site, but the short version
includes four incredibly scenic, friendly, and relaxing vacation-like days on the Cinque Terre coast;
an intense cultural foray into Renaissance Art in Florence; and three playful days being surprised
and delighted by the charms of Venice. We traveled comfortably and efficiently by train (occasionally
by boat). We had good luck with all the reservations we had made online before going. We spoke
pitifully little Italian (we are grateful so many others take the time and effort to learn English
for our benefit). We ate well, but never had a “Wow” dinner anywhere. No matter. We
loved Italy. We would make a return visit in a heartbeat.
Somewhere Else: Massachusetts
In May we flew to Massachusetts for a brief family visit on the occasion of our
mitzvah in Northampton. Jessie Chasan-Taber, after months of study and practice, read confidently
from the Torah at the synagogue, delivered a provocative homily on a scriptural passage of her choosing,
and, in the evening, let her hair down (literally) and danced the evening away with her friends and
family. She got her picture taken hundreds of times in that one day.
While we were there we spent time with Judy’s brother and his wife, Jessie’s
proud grandparents, and their son Steve and his wife and son (We had not seen young Oliver before since
they have lived mostly in either Brazil or London since he was born). We had short visits with Debra
and Dan who drove west for the occasion. Griffin and Julia were properly dressed up for the
occasion—lookin’ gooood! And we got to visit with Jessie’s parents, Scott and
Lisa, more than we had since their wedding back in the early 90s. (Photo below includes younger sister,
We spent most of the day before and after the bat
mitzvah either at Scott and Lisa’s home in North Hadley where Judy ran on the rural backwoods, or
at Mt. Tom State Reservation
near Easthampton where she ran in the hills. We missed a lot of interesting activities in Northampton
where the bat mitzvah was held: there was a Cinco de Mayo celebration, a GLBT parade, plus the Dalai Lama
was speaking somewhere in town. All this and Jessie’s bat mitzvah! The town was running on overload.
We did walk the shops of Northampton the following day and had a great dinner at the
Eastside Grill (highly recommended).
Somewhere Else: The Bolder Boulder
Did I mention that on Memorial Day, we did not sleep in? Instead we got up before
sunrise—Hughes at 5:30 to eat a quick breakfast, Judy at 4:30 am to eat, get the dogs out and fed,
and get herself settled. By 6:00 we were heading down the hill to Boulder for the 29th running of the
Bolder Boulder 10K.
It’s one of the largest road races and traffic snarls in the world: over 50,000 runners registered
and the number of spectators was estimated at 80,000.
If you’ve ever wondered how so many runners get organized to run through a city of
about 100,000, here’s a way to think of it. Participants are grouped into “waves” of
about 500 runners (or, toward the back of the pack, walkers). Now imagine 100 races of 500 runners, each
group or wave running the same course about 2-3 minutes apart. This year runners were given a microchip
to tie to their shoes that recorded when they crossed their assigned start line, when they finished, and
recorded each time they crossed a mile marker. When the race was over, you could (in theory) take your
chip to one of several chip reader machines and get a print out of your final time plus your
“splits,” i.e., your time for each mile. Unfortunately, due to glitches we’ve never
fully understood, things did not work out as planned and the announcement of the final results were
several days later than in the past. It was a good idea, but the Illinois company whose technology was
used had never attempted any project this large. They promise to do better next year. Fortunately, the
race organizers also used the traditional paper technology as a back-up, which saved the day. I wonder
if election officials around the country might learn a lesson from this snafu.
It was not clear until three or four days later that Judy had
won her age group for
the 14th time in 14 tries (type in her name and check “show position”). She dropped a couple
of minutes off her previous best time, but still won handily. She calls her 56:25 both a “PW”
(personal worst) and a “PR” (personal record or best). The PW is self-evident;
she’s never run 6.2 mles slower. The PR, a friend pointed out, was her fastest time as a
cancer survivor. She’ll take both.
Somewhere Else: Revving up the RV
Since we returned from our maiden voyage in our
RV to Arizona and New Mexico in February, our
new Itasca Navion has been in storage. (This photo was taken at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
in Arizona in February.) For three months it’s been suffering silently in the snow and hail and
wind and rain just waiting for us to take her on a road trip. By the time you read this, we’ll
be road camping somewhere in Utah where the days will probably be hot and dry and the nights quiet
and star-filled. We’ve got our laptop with us so we can monitor email; we’ll have our new
cell phone with us, but there probably will be little chance of getting service. We’ll keep in
touch as we can.
We plan to be back sometime mid-July and then be home the rest of the summer, though
we will likely slip out for a long weekend road trip from time to time. Keep in touch and let us know
when you might come calling. We’ll have hundreds of pictures from Italy to show you (the ones
that didn’t make it to the web page), and a few more hundred from Utah, which we haven’t
yet seen ourselves. Bring your photos and we’ll exchange pictures over a cold beer or frozen
Best wishes for a wonderful summer wherever you wind up.