What I Did This Summer

The name of the nurse who took my blood pressure was Michelle. I don’t know how old she was exactly, but I think she was a pre-teen when Friends was a top-rated TV show. She was very accomplished at having the right balance of concern and skill levels for an emergency room. She was very reassuring. Apparently there were two nurses named Michelle, so each had a nickname. Her’s was Bambi. I did not ask if the other’s was Thumper. I spent about 5 1/2 hours in one of her rooms, waiting for my blood pressure to come down to something like normal. The 20 minutes of 104 degree hot water in the Hot Springs of Thermopolis, Wyoming, had caused my blood pressure to rise enough to make me feel dizzy.

They had good WIFI, which I quickly connected to. You do have to be careful when looking at health websites such as WebMD, etc. Like reading the warning label on a bottle of Aspirin, a quick read of any given malady would convince you that you are dying, if not now, then very soon. I started to research the different medicines to treat hypertension.

My ER doctor came and went several times as she tended to me, another ER patient and a clinic in the building. On a return to monitor one of the medicines she had ordered for me, we had a few minutes to talk. I asked her thought process for deciding which medicines to use, naming the three categories of blood pressure medicine. She asked me how I knew that. I replied that if anyone leaves me alone with nothing to do and gives me internet access I will be a self-appointed expert by the fourth hour. She laughed. We talked about the options and her over-riding concern not to drop my blood pressure too low. That’s why she was being patient watching the results of each medicine.

She was raised in Thermopolis. She had gone away to medical school in Washington State. She returned to take a position in her home town in its small county hospital. I am sure she was “qualified” to go most anywhere. I think it says something about a person who choses to return home to help take care of it. There is a rugged beauty to the center of Wyoming but it is not the easiest place to live.

One rest stop between Thermopolis and Cody had a large exhibit on the Prairie Rattlesnake, found in abundance in that particular location. The average length was a little over 3 1/2 feet, although they could grow up to 5 feet. Next to the exhibit was a warning not to walk a dog outside the rest area or be tempted to rock scramble on the bluffs near by. I will assert that five foot rattlesnake warning signs get your attention and ensure compliance.

After a day of rest and monitoring my blood pressure, we drove off to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Both parks were overcrowded and busy with bus loads of tourists, but Yellowstone was almost impossible to function in. The first time I was in Yellowstone the buses were full of European tourists. The second time the tourists were Japanese. This year they were Chinese. The bison of Yellowstone can tell you which world economy did well the year before. The snipe about National Park Service management is the “Disney-ization” of its crown jewels such as Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. They have an impossible job in that they have to protect the wild life and also allow for it to be experienced— two irreconcilable goals. The best they can do is channel the busses and crowds down a few main roads and keep as much of the park as untouched as possible.The one thing you can do when visiting is hike away from any main road. One mile eliminates 98% of the tourists and five miles can leave you mostly alone.

The best connection to summer vacation and anything theological I can think of is Luther’s pilgrimage from Germany to Rome (besides the revealed beauty and wonder of God’s creation). Remember that Luther walked from Nuremburg to Rome in the fall and winter, having to cross the Alps. How I wish that journey was better documented. The “appeal” of the Augustinians, thereupon he was sent to Rome, was denied. The journey itself was a “failure.” Added to that was his disgust at the condition of the “Holy City.” The motto, “what happens in … stays in …” would apply to Rome then as as it does to Las Vegas today. For Luther, any illusions of Rome as an imaginary “new Jerusalem” were destroyed. His experience of Rome took away any naive views of the church hierarchy. Once he was in conflict with Pope Leo IX, Luther knew where and how his adversaries lived and he knew how and where he lived. He had walked every step of the land in between them. Especially, Luther knew how the people of both lands lived. Like the castles of the day, resting high upon hill tops, the church lived above and on top of the peasants and common people. As a consequence of feudalism the church was an absent landlord. I will assert again as I have before, it’s the pastor in Luther that makes him passionate to defend the church because he sees the church from the pulpit and not the Bishop’s chair. Luther had walked Saxony and not been carried through it.

The blood pressure incident of July is being taken care. The New West survived the visit of the Sidwells. There are no fires and no drought in Western Michigan. Lake Michigan remains unsalted and shark free. Traveling lets us see new things, meet new people and come to new thinking. The time away allows for new ideas and creativity. It’s good to go away. It’s good to come back. I look forward to hearing your stories. I’ll give you the start: answer this,

“What I did this summer!”

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