Several events unfolded over the past four or five months that weren't on my usual agenda. Just before leaving Thailand I had noticed an alarming development in my vision — there was a gray football-shaped area in my right eye accompanied by a blurriness that made reading difficult. I drove to Anchorage almost immediately after my arrival to see a retina specialist. In all, I made three trips up there for treatments. These consisted of injections, directly into the eyeball, of a drug designed to inhibit blood vessel growth in my retina. These extra vessels had leaked aqueous humor, the fluid that fills the eye, into the tissues near my optic nerve creating a sort of bubble which distorted my retina and caused the blurry vision. Why did they proliferate like that? Will it eventually lead to the feared macular degeneration that plagued my mom during her last years? The shots had a salutary effect and my vision has returned to near normal. Still, it's scary stuff.
As an aside, if I had had to make three long trips, five hours each way, in the lower 48 I probably would have been bored to tears. But this is Alaska where the intrepid traveler is constantly rewarded with scenes of unparalleled scenic beauty. On the last trip in mid-August, I drove the Winne and camped near Hope in the same spot where Tuli, Harper and I stayed last summer. It's a great site having a 5-star view with no other campers nearby and, to add frosting to the cake, it's also free.
|Views from my Hope Road campsite (N60.92988°, W149.54192°)|
|Camping on the Resurrection River near Seward|
Then, during one of those trips to Anchorage I was talking with my friend Alisa Carrol, who happens to be a physical therapist, and learned from her that one's balance can be trained and tuned like any other physical skill, just as you can train yourself to hit ground strokes or volleys in tennis. I immediately obtained a referral from my doc for some PT sessions at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer. Working with Karen Northrop, a PT specialist there, my balance and stability began to improve almost instantly. She explained that certain muscles get lazy to the point of mild atrophy after a while and don't do the job they must to keep a person steady and upright. The simple exercises she prescribed have, to my amazement, allowed me to regain the balance I thought was lost to the ravages of old age. Now, every day I do my clamshell and calf stretches, my, for lack of a better term, one-leg dangles, my leg extensions, followed by a balancing act on a springy air cushion, all in hopes of delaying those ravages so I can walk confidently again and keep playing the game I love. I must add before leaving this topic that I now have insights about why so many older folks suffer traumatic falls, falls that often lead to death. Like me, their balance has probably been compromised and most of them are unaware of it. As active as I am at age 73 with my tennis program, I found I'll need to do more to stay in reasonable condition unless I want to become one of those unfortunates.
Being in Homer means seeing old friends, lots of friends, and is a major reason I so enjoy returning to Kachemak Country every summer. The first few weeks are special because everyone I see runs over to trade hugs and greetings. I enjoy warm welcomes from my partners at Alaska Boats & Permits, and start doing day hikes with BFFs Kirk and Jambo.
|Hiking with Jambo and Kirk|
|Party at Doug's — Alaska Boats & Permits hat circle|
Time to close this post. There are so many mapping chores ahead and I want to get at them. I discovered a new source of aerial imagery for Alaska and now I'm revisiting areas of interest (on the computer, that is) and adding geographic features that were previously obscured because only low quality Bing imagery was available. Let's see, the Matanuska River needs work, the area around Summit Lake, the Snow River Valley near Seward — the list is long. I'd better get going...
All the best from the Land of Smiles.