Monday’s Meander on Tuesday: Stunning Red Rock State Park (Plus, My Surprise)

As you can see, I am leading with a blurry but happy photo of me taken when visiting Red Rock State Park, the last part of our trip to Central Oregon. Not because I think the picture is special. Rather, because my admitted self-image does not currently match up with X-rays and MRIs. I must have thought I could bypass various aspects of this qging body; I might have had rose colored glasses on too often.

Sitting on the fence that day three weeks ago, I didn’t feel like someone with a major knee issue. I was a little tired and very thirsty–that sun was nearly scorching my skin. But I wasn’t fending off bothersome pain after a nice walkabout. Those who’ve read my blog are aware I had a medial tear of a meniscus (right knee) in January and have been working with that ever since. To little avail, though a cortisone shot diminished the worst pain after two months’ physical therapy. Which I had to quit as it was the wrong thing to pursue, it turns out. I managed increasingly better after the injection (but it made my face and neck beet red and was itchy several days). I have from the start kept up with daily walks if possible –but after that they were faster and farther and even on hilly terrain with just a tad lingering soreness.

I know this sort of injury is common for lots of active people and so wasn’t that concerned; I had another tear 4 years ago and it healed up. But then came further consults with orthopedic surgeons about that jagged tear. I had the second one yesterday. The first doctor did not inform enough or clarify a timeline for a plan so I sought another’s opinion. I learned I have some degenerative arthritis on part of the knee in addition to a difficult-to-fix tear at the root of the injured meniscus. Bottom line is I will– this year, likely– need a partial knee replacement. I so appreciate the second surgeon being clear and frank about things. And we will talk again in awhile unless things go south faster than hoped.

But–what? Hang on a minute– I didn’t even know I had any, much less significant, arthritis! Sure, a crunch here and there, sometimes a sudden pain. But nothing impossible. I push to override discomfort, anyway, then go my merry way, whether that’s good or not. So this was a shocking reveal. (I still don’t know what will happen with the irregular tear–that procedure didn’t sound so nice/simple. Partial knee replacement with that repair may occur at same time.)

Ok, maybe a little discomfort in the semi-lame knee….enough walking for one day. (And where’s the iced tea? Just snap the pic, will ya?)

I can’t quite sort out or elucidate feelings about it; this isn’t a creative nonfiction piece, and I have to sit with the information awhile. I ponder this: I felt strong and well before this last injury. I have dealt with pain alright, overall, tried to take care of myself and looked forward to an effective treatment plan. Well, reality is what it is. And any fix that will help me stay active outdoors and for longer is the better news. I am grateful for what all I do not have and am counting on more healing, in time.

On to the good stuff: Smith Rock State Park, which spreads out at 3200 feet above sea level. (We met our granddaughter and friend and also her mother there for a last visit.) It is renowned for sport rock climbing of all sorts and levels. Made of volcanic rock–basalt and tuff– the peaks are intriguing colors and shapes. Hard to imagine the upheaval and profound alterations that occurred with the eruption(s).

I regret I wasn’t able to descend into Crooked River valley to hike those miles of trails, nor climb among rocky abuttments this time. You can spot in the distance a few rock climbers and hikers. Paths wind all about below, which I plan to revisit–it’s an exhilarating hike!

The trail you see above travels up and then down and around the river’s length. I am zoomed in here. The shot below gives more perspective on the descent, as well as height of pinnacles. If you look closely, you can see one person walking at far left on the trail by the river; there are a few others barely visible on far right end of trail that are mere specks.

Below, there is a rock climber inside a crevasse farther at right side of the rocks. Look for a white shirt half in shadow. Hard to spot–I did have a telephoto lens–in the car!…

Fanily insert shows Granddaughter Avery, Marc and me; Avery and her friend on an upper trail; people at right looking down toward river valley, left of shot.

I love the textures, shapes, colors of the high desert. And the sweet-sharp fragrances everywhere.

The afternoon began to melt away in the heat and beauty. We had four hours to drive. After saying a fond farewell to our Avery we started back home. Here are a few parting shots from along the road.

We passed through Warm Springs Reservation on the way to the Cascades. Whenever I do, I think of the clients I counselled while working in addictions/mental health treatment. I was once employed by a Native American organization and it was an experience that changed me, meeting people from multiple tribes, witnessing the palpable suffering and learning about their survival; learning a few of many traditions, hearing their music, and feeling their great desire for wholeness. I still have some beadwork sliped into my hands by some women clients who completed treatment succesfully. I was given a beautiful painting by a well known Native artist…but couselors shoould not take such gifts. The director decided to keep it since I wasn’t American Indian, anyway– and it was valuable. That hurt a bit, but I wonder how the male artist fared once back home.

This rugged land–and all the rest– was once theirs. The lossses were and are grave; the Native peoples are traumatized and it carries forward generationally. I ponder it even now–our country too often seems to not consider the impact of all this. And we cannot forget.

This trip–about which I have posted for four weeks– was only three days but stuffed with interesting experiences and fun hours. Marc and I will be getting away more this summer. Actually, we are off to the beach on Sun. so I won’t be posting next “Monday’s Meander.” But the following week: some choice Pacific Ocean stories and shots!