Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day #4: It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times (DESCEND!)

Cristian In Cavate, Bandelier

Our last full day in Santa Fe...

I was determined that my kids would get some sort of awesome cultural experience, and appreciate the geography of New Mexico. So, we headed to Bandelier National Monument. It has super cool ancient Pueblo cliff-houses, called cavates, that were carved out of the soft volcanic ash. The kids were able to climb up the ladders and peak inside. We also saw the remains of ancient common houses and other ruins.

Ruins At Bandelier

Cool Rock Formation (Volcanic Ash)

Nat In Cavate

Pink "Swiss Cheese" Rock is Compacted Volcanic Ash

The drive to Bandelier from Santa Fe is gorgeous, although my heights-fearing husband wasn't too thrilled as the bus drove on the edge of the canyon. Hee hee! (I think I saw his eyes roll back in his head a couple of times). Otherwise, this was the perfect outing for our family.

Except for one, small, wee little problem.

I couldn't breathe.

I could no longer ignore the fact that I was not acclimating to the new altitude, but instead my breathing was getting worse. I managed to climb up to the first set of cavates, but after that I had to head back to the bottom of the trail. I was wheezing and couldn't catch my breath.

My husband was extremely worried, but I kept insisting I would be okay. It was a tough climb.

The rest of our day was fabulous. We had a really fun dinner out with the kids, my husband got me a gorgeous diamond ring! (woo hoo!), and everything would have been peachy-keen if only I could breathe.

It was close to midnight, we all had our pajamas on and were getting ready for bed. My husband was on the iPad researching "high altitude sickness" and "pulmonary edema" and lots of other fun things. Our hotel had canisters of oxygen sitting on the mini-bar (I'm not kidding), so I was sucking that stuff down like it was going out of style.

Hubs jumps up from the bed and announces, "We're leaving."

(I'm in my PJs with a toothbrush hanging out my mouth). "Wah?"

"Now. We are leaving Santa Fe now."




"There are only two ways to fix this problem. Oxygen and descent. We have to descend to a lower elevation. Your breathing is getting worse. This is not okay."

"Can't it wait until morning?"

"No. Now."

The kids shrugged and started chucking their clothes into their bags.

I felt like I was a climber in the Himalayas, forced to turn back before I had an unfortunate run-in with Yeti.

We packed in five minutes, checked out of the hotel (which was very understanding--I got the feeling this was a common problem with tourists), and took off for Albuquerque, which is about 2000 feet lower in elevation. I didn't believe my husband when he told me that would help. But by God, it did. Within one hour of driving, we arrived in Albuquerque, and I was already breathing much better.


The next day we went to the ER, then headed to the airport to return to Boston. SEA LEVEL OR BUST, BABY!

So, that's my sad and sorry story about summer vacation. At least we got 1/2 week in Santa Fe before my lungs crapped out. And...we did have some fun. And...I did get a diamond ring (yay!).

Needless to say, I don't think I'll be doing this anytime soon...

Sea level does have its advantages...

Breathing is fun,