The Parkins Report: Events of 2014

Note: this is an expanded version of the one-page PDF we circulate.

“Entering Utah,” on Road Trip 2014, a January venture to visit relatives in New Mexico,Texas, and California.

This year was characterized by extreme medical adventures, interspersed with the usual auto tours and some slightly different activities. The year started fairly normally, with an auto tour to New Mexico and California, and a business trip to Montana, but then took a different tack.

The Southwest Loop tour began with the Bike Friday perched on top of the Jeep, with the intent of getting in some winter riding early, while visiting with kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and El Paso. In keeping with our advancing age and reluctance to let scenery pass by in the dark, we took several days enroute, stopping in eastern Oregon and Durango, Colorado, arriving in sunny Santa Fe to -11C temps, much too cold for riding.

Las Cruces was a bit more hospitable, weatherwise, and we did get in a few rides, one in the middle of a half-marathon, where we shared the trail with many runners for 2 km. The back and chest pain Larye had experienced on early-season rides for the past several years returned, but overall the ride was pleasant.

Crossing the Sonoran Desert, headed from Las Cruces to Anaheim.

Moving west, we visited relatives in Anaheim and Thousand Oaks. After a few days, we headed north, overnighting in Carmel-by-the-Sea before settling in for a few days vacation and riding at Clear Lake. The weather was a bit cold and Larye’s discomfort was more pronounced, through we did manage a 30-km ride on a mild day. Despite the drought, we drove US 101 the rest of the way north to Oregon in sometimes heavy rain, taking time to tour the scenic drives through the redwoods. In Oregon, our way was blocked by a large tree blown down across US101, with high winds when we finally reached our evening’s destination. Our tour culminated with a stop at the chilly air museum in the blimp hanger at Tillamook, then directly home after encountering snow at the 45th parallel.

A quick inspection of the exterior of our cabin: the snow was piled deep against the front door, so we didn’t go in.

In early March, we traveled to Montana, staying with nephew Rick rather than shoveling out our cabin, which was buried in several feet of snow. A business trip to Rocky Mountain Laboratory yielded a task to flesh out a web application Larye had written years before and package it for general distribution to other users of the instrumentation with which it was designed to work.

The login screen on Larye’s web app, a custom user interface to create plate definition files for the BD Biosciences FACS cell-counting instrument, originally designed for the Research Technology Section of the Research Technology Branch of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, and soon to be released to Open Source as a Linux software package and virtual appliance, for all users of the instrument model.


At Lake Chelan, as the fruit trees were starting to bloom.

We visited with friends Gary and Char at a resort near Mt. Hood in the spring, and they stayed with us in May at McCall, Idaho. It’s always fun to share vacations.  Gary was the first to note that Larye’s exercise-related pain might be something other than reflux, having been through similar symptoms himself the year before.

A few local bike rides were cut short because of Larye’s recurrent pain when starting out. We spent a week at Lake Chelan in late April, with some riding around Manson, with minor starting-out pains. Memorial Day weekend, we rode the 30km around Payette Lake, from McCall, Idaho, with frequent stops for pain to subside and pushing through the loose sand and gravel on about a quarter of the route.

Ready to begin our circumnavigation of Payette Lake, at McCall, Idaho. The 30-km loop was fraught with frequent stops to let the angina pain subside. Judy grounds Larye for the duration of the week: three weeks later, he was in ICU recovering from cardiac bypass.

On returning home, Larye saw his physician and insisted on a cardiac stress test, “just to rule out any problems.” Well, the stress test lasted almost three minutes before blood pressure and pulse spiked over 200, and Larye was feeling pain down to his fingertips. This was on a Friday, and he was sent home with nitro pills and beta blockers, with a Monday cardiology appointment, which yielded an early Tuesday catheterization: the blockage was severe, and a full cardiac artery bypass graft was scheduled for the afternoon, as soon as the surgical team finished the morning surgery.

Waiting for lunch in the ICU, the morning after surgery.
Waiting for lunch in the ICU, the morning after surgery.

So, suddenly, the summer plan turned from training for a bicycle tour in Wisconsin to slowly regaining strength by walking back and forth on the porch, gradually extending to downtown sidewalks, then city and county parks, then regional trails, and an excursion into the Olympics and salt marshes, hiking trails we hadn’t visited in 20 years or more. By the time the Portland Knit,Quilt, and Stitch came around in August, Larye was ambulatory enough to drive to the Lacey Amtrak station and we attended the conference via public transit, after getting a clean bill of health from his cardiac surgeon, and later, a release from the cardiologist: no rehab program needed, since we were hiking up to 6km on the trails by then.

Rehab: a walk across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 6km round trip, before going in for 8-week checkup with the heart surgeon.

Labor Day weekend found us “on the road again,” with the weekend in Silverton, Oregon, touring the Oregon Gardens, with a brief tour of Silver Falls before heading east to the dry side for a week in the Bend area. The original plan had been for a bicycling holiday, but we continued to hike, visiting the Newberry Volcanic National Monument and hiking the trails around the resort, including an hour’s spin on a side-by-side one-speed tricycle just to prove we could still ride, albeit cautiously. Since then, Larye has set up his old Fuji touring bike on a wind trainer in the basement to get in some interval training without danger of crashing, something we don’t want to do: read on.

Workout from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Recovery was not without setbacks, however. A couple weeks after surgery, on July 4, Larye experienced a pulmonary embolism, which prompted another hospital stay, so he is on blood thinner for a year, which involved several weeks of daily painful injections into the stomach while building up the poison levels… Then, a few days before a planned long fall vacation trip to Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington, and British Columbia, the warfarin mistook Larye for a rat and he turned up with bleeding kidneys, for a few frightening days until the warfarin level was brought down and the flow stopped, plus some unpleasant tests to rule out bladder cancer: found a kidney stone, to be addressed later. We were able to join our vacation route “in progress,” with a trip to visit Judy’s brother and sister-in-law in eastern Washington before heading for Canada’s Okanagan Lake and a visit with Larye’s cousin, Becky.

Kelowna, BC, Canada. Where we stayed was exactly 75km each direction from cousin Becky’s house, on the opposite side of the lake. The lake is 135km long, with Kelowna and its floating bridge about halfway.

We had one more trip planned this year, at least, to spend another week at Lake Chelan, finishing out this year’s timeshare obligations, sans bicycle, but with hiking shoes. It is quiet time at the resort, with only three of the 24 units in our section occupied, including ourselves.

This was the year that Larye became more or less retired for real, after electing not to renew his contract for support of the NIH, which expired in September. He has hinted to his remaining clients that nothing is forever, so they should have a Plan B.

Being an official “retired person,” Larye didn’t have any excuses to put off completing the inside storm window project this fall, spurred on by an early cold snap in mid-November.

Our fourth year as Warm Showers hosts saw an early influx of bicycle tourists, with a trio of hardy souls in January on a Seattle-to-Los Angeles trip, and a scattering of early season tourists in between our own travels in the spring. The medical issues forced us to close for the summer as well as cancel a few reservations, but we had a flurry of guests between our Bend and Kelowna trips, and a late-November tourist who needed rescued from storms and steep hills that left him cold and wet, far short of his goal by dark, 60km from us and far from other hosts. We had to turn down yet another potential guest in early December, due to our schedules.  The guest count is close to 100, plus a number of cancellations and just requests for advice or assistance.

“Twilight in the Garden,” a quilted, discharged, appliqued, and bead-embellished piece from 2008, which now hangs in a classroom at the Lacey Senior Center

Judy continued as program director for the Olympia Weavers Guild, which is more or less a full-time job, if not a lifetime position, as few are willing to undertake the task. She also is now primarily a weaver, having sold her quilt fabric stash last year and, on the weekend before Larye’s surgery, her long-arm quilting machine. Fortunately, her health has been good this year.  Judy also sold an art piece this year, to the Lacey Senior Center, as a result of a call for entries for art to hang in the new center at Woodland Park.

Peace — Larye and Judy (and Delia)
For more photos and videos, find us on Facebook,Vimeo, or our personal blogs.  (Links to some of our videos below.)

18-year-old Delia runs the house, insisting on a lap near the fire, and her favorite quilt.

Appendix: Travels with Judy and Larye, a video notebook

Las Cruces – NMSU from Larye Parkins on Vimeo

Once past the half-marathon (2000 runners) with whom we shared the bike path, we continued on to the New Mexico State University campus, then back to our B&B on the normally busy El Paseo commercial strip, where there was no bike lane.

LakePort from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

A ride around the north end of Clear Lake to Lakeport and back saw much heavy traffic, despite being “off season.”

Wapato Lake from Larye Parkins on Vimeo

On our spring trip to Lake Chelan, we rode up into the hills and around the lakes and apple and wine country north of Manson.

Payette Lake from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

The Payette Lake ride was the ultimate wakeup call that no amount of diet and training was going to fix what turned out to be advanced heart disease. The lack of film footage on this ride around the beautiful high mountain lake was telling–Larye was too busy dealing with getting back to town alive to operate the camera.

Capital Lake from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

One of our first long walks.  We also walked around the north basin of Capital Lake later, and made a number of walks on the 3-km Huff ‘n Puff trail park in Shelton, as well as other city trails and county park trails.

Staircase remix from Larye Parkins on Vimeo

Staircase is the southwest gateway to the interior of the Olympic National Park.  We last hiked this in 1985 on a weekend backpacking trip with Matt, Mark, and Jason.

Theler Wetland Nature Preserve Trail from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Another nostalgic visit: we hiked this tidal marsh trail when it first opened in 1994.

Amtrak Cascades – Olympia to Portland from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

A train trip to the Quilt, Knit, and Stitch expo in Portland.  We did a lot of walking around the Lloyd Center area, where our Montana friends
were staying, as well as downtown Portland, taking the light rail and buses around the city, along with more walking.

Newberry caldera from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

A trip to Bend, Oregon, led us to a hike around the east shore of West Paulina Lake, in the crater of the Newberry volcano south of Bend, in search of the hot springs at the north side of the crater.

ClineFalls from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

We had intended to cycle the paths around Eagle Crest Resort and the roads and trails near Bend, but ended up hiking the trails instead, one of which led us down into the Deschutes River trail upstream from Cline Falls.

Trike from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Our first pedal outing, on a rented side-by-side trike at Eagle Crest Resort, near Bend.