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,


Barb Wallace said...

So sorry you had breathing issues BUT three cheers for fast thinking/acting Mr. Penelope for both the ring and the quick evac. He's such a keeper.

Lori said...

Oh my gosh! So glad your husband made you leave and that you're ok. Scary!

Shirra said...

Good hubby - for the ring and the quick getaway! Glad you're alright. I think everyone would be happy with Hawaii again.

Julia Barrett said...

Two things - glad you're okay and glad your kids didn't get bit by a snake sitting in that hole.

Penny Watson said...

Barb--Mr. Penelope saved the day. *my hero*

Penny Watson said...

Thanks, Lori! Sea level is my friend. I don't think I'll be mountain-climbing anytime soon.

Penny Watson said...

Shirra....the ring is AWESOMESAUCE! *sparkle* I agree about Hawaii. I learned my lesson!

Penny Watson said...

Julia! ACK! Don't even start about snakes.

Geekamicus said...

I'm sorry vacation was such a bust, Penny (I mean except for the diamonds, wowzza).

They say that it takes about six months to get used to the altitude. It's about that. I tell ya, the first half year I lived here I felt like I had just run a marathon. Every day. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and my heart would be womp, womp, womping like nobody's business.

I still don't like altitudes, but it has more to do with me sharing a fear of "road, that's not a road, that's a rabbit trail -- and the rabbit was drunk" that I think I share with your husband.

Tales of Whimsy said...

That tootallly sucks. It definitely takes time to get use to. You're hubs sounds like a reallly great loving dude btw.

Heidenkind said...

There are meds you can take for that if you ever want to come back to high altitude! :) My grandma has to take them whenever she visits.

Penny Watson said... That is crazy. I didn't realize it took so long to acclimate. What a pain in the arse!

If I hadn't been suffering from a cough and chest infection when I got there, I am sure my reaction would not have been so intense. I am bummed.

I figure Vermont is high-altitude enough for me at this point.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Juju! My hubby is a wee little bit over-protective of me now (post-heart attack), but I guess that isn't such a bad thing. Particularly in this instance!

Penny Watson said...

Tasha...Meds! I'll take the meds! :^) (Also, I LOVED that oxygen canister).

Jessi said...

Almost suffocated...diamond ring. I'd say it was worth it;-)

Glad you're back at sea level and thriving!

Penny Watson said...

Jessi....See! I like the way you think! Who needs oxygen when you have DIAMONDS!

Unknown said...

And you call me such a good sport bloody hell Penelope quick spot.

Sorry the lungs were packing in but thanks to quick thinking hubs and a fast drive and the road ahead lit up from the glare of the shiny new diamond the day, year and our Penny was saved
hurrah xxxxxx

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Wow, I haven't been paying attention, Penny! I love that area of the world, but I don't have that problem! Thank goodness for your husband and the internet and I'm sure the diamond ring helps as well. A big hug from me to you! xo Nancy

Penny Watson said...

Hi Tom! Diamonds are the answer to almost all ailments, right?

Penny Watson said...

Hi Nancy! I'll bet Pittsburgh is just as hot as Boston right now. Ugh! Hope you have A/C!