Tom's Blog -- February 2008

A Trip to the Wilderness

After stops in Alabama and Texas, to meet with other new clients, my next stop was at Second Nature Entrada in Southwestern Utah and nearby Nevada. My policy is to meet in person all of my young clients.  Rarely, my clients are transported to a wilderness program or treatment center before I have the opportunity to meet them. In that case I go to where they are to meet them.  That was the reason for this trip. 

This trip was already a bit more challenging than most, as my chronic back problem had been acting up and I was using a cane.  Foreshadowing, I'll point out that my back problems would prevent me from being helpful in any situation that would call for strenuous activity.

I drove from the Las Vegas airport to St. George, UT.  It was a chilly rainy day like a  drizzly fall day in northeast. Very unusual weather for Las Vegas.  The route to St. George from Las Vegas passes through a small corner of Arizona.  Most of that trip goes through the beautiful Virgin River Canyon.  What surprised me was the slush on the road.  Snow or slush in the Virgin River Canyon is like balmy weather in Anchorage in January.  I certainly was not expecting it.  But it was a way of foreshadowing what was to come. 

By the time I got to St. George, I  had to avoid skidding several times.  There were a couple inches of very wet snow. The desk clerk at the hotel where I stayed said this was the first snow in St. George in several years. This was at an elevation of less than 3,000 feet. The following morning, I checked in at the Entrada office in nearby Santa Clara.  Soon we were on our way to the campsite where my client was located.  At the wheel of the extended cab  truck was my client's assistant therapist, his therapist was in the back seat, and I was riding shotgun. 

As the elevation increased, the snow got deeper. As we got farther from civilization, the maintenance became less.  Before long, we were back in Nevada moving on roads that were probably unpaved, but the surface was invisible under at least six inches of light powdery snow.  Then it became evident that we were on roads that had become rutted during the last rain with the ruts now hardened, and covered with almost ten inches of  fresh powder. 

When we were still about a half mile from the campsite we were seeking, we became stuck. The two therapists got out to push. I was at the wheel, attempting to help the process by running the engine and rocking the truck forward and backward.  Soon we gave up on that project, and one went forward to get additional help from staff with the wilderness group.  That did not pan out either, as that staff was needed for client related issues.

Finally, the decision was made to have my client walk down the road to where we were.  They shoveled out an area about thirty feet back from the road.  My client walked down the road to the impromptu clearing.  He had a foam mat to sit on and what appeared to be waterproof cover-alls  (I'm sure there is a more appropriate name for that).  I had a camp chair that gave surprisingly good support for my old back injury that was acting up at that time. 

We had a great conversation.  This was a young man who was escorted to wilderness just a few weeks before, but was cordial and fully cooperative.  I needed to question in my own mind was whether or not he really fully appreciated the difficulty he was in.  Beyond that, I don't want to say more about this young man, in the interest of his right to confidentiality.  

After two hours or so, another pickup truck appeared, this one equipped with chains. In the back of the truck was another set of chains for the stuck truck.  These were applied before we left.  I later learned that the truck that had been stuck moved easily with the chains. 

The trip back to base was efficient and uneventful.  I was back for the appointed hour of six o'clock.  Back in my own car for a rapid trip back to Las Vegas for the trip home the next morning.  Dinner at Red Lobster in Henderson and overnight at the Hilton Garden Inn, also in Henderson.  A restful night. A pleasant trip home on Southwest Airlines. 

                      Solutions, Not Just Referrals"

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