Thursday, August 13, 2009

Heart attack hill

Sally and I have been exercise walking since 1987. The best walks we ever took were up a steep hill and around Alta View Hospital, just a quarter mile or so east of our suburban house in Sandy, Utah. We were really in shape in those days.

Because the hospital is on the high ground we especially loved that walk during what I called the summer of Pinatubo. You may recall--and if you don't I'm here to tell you about it--that Mt. Pinatubo, in the Philippines, blew June 12-15, 1991. It sent ash into the air, and it colored the sunsets for months. Sally and I would walk when the sun was setting so we could see the brilliant reds over our western mountains. I wish I had a picture to share with you, but in those days we didn't have digital photography and the little pictures we could have taken wouldn't have been worth it.

We hadn't done the hospital walk for a long time but lately we have decided we want to try to hospital walk again. The other night we did it and I felt like I was going to die. My heart slammed in my chest, I was puffing audibly as we went up the hill. Luckily when we reached what I felt was the pinnacle of Mt. Everest I was able to make a quick recovery, which is a sign that I'm still in reasonable shape. I told Sally I'm glad we were walking to a hospital in case I collapsed of a heart attack.

But this morning we walked and we hardly puffed or felt a strain at all. We didn't suddenly get into shape, we just did it early in the morning. The other night, as I explained to her, everything I'd eaten that day, all the laying around I did watching TV, or working at my computer, put about 100 pounds of lead into my ass. No wonder I couldn't make it up the hill.

Here's Sally, in front of our neighbor's house, saying, "So, are you coming or what?" This is the first of the hills we walk. Sorry about the dark picture; we were walking into the sun, so I had to keep it out of the pictures.

The second hill is north on Flint Drive to 9400 South Street. Little bit steeper. You can see the city put in a nice new set of bricks in the parkstrips next to the new sidewalks. They tried growing trees along this route for years, finally just tearing out their corpses. For some reason nothing grew here.

We've turned the corner and are heading east on 9400. You see that retaining wall next to Sally? It used to be a regular chainlink fence, and there are houses on the other side which belong to a cul-de-sac about 15-20 feet below the street. A car jumped the curb and slammed into the old chainlink, nearly going over the hill. The next time we walked we noticed the hole in the fence and a neighbor below stood on his back deck and excitedly told us the story of the careening car. Now the retaining wall will protect someone from going through the fence and plunging 20 feet by killing them when they hit the wall.

Yay! Top of the hill. The construction on our left is for a new medical arts building.

This picture is from the top of the hill looking west to the Oquirrh mountains. You can see the tailings from over 100 years of digging at the Kennecott Copper Mine, which was once known as the biggest open pit mine in the world. Wow, what a distinction, huh? I think they lost that honor of being biggest to a mine in Peru. You also don't see many trees on the mountains because the emissions from the ore smelter killed them all. To their credit Kennecott is trying to replant, and they have cleaned up their emissions, but because we live in a valley the cars and industries make a brown haze that is ugly and dangerous. Luckily today was a breezy day so I could show you our valley.

Here's the Women's Center of Alta View hospital. In September, 1991 a man planted dynamite outside the building, then held hostages in the Center. He wanted to shoot a doctor who had performed a tubal ligation on his wife. The doctor hid and called police. The man killed a nurse. You can read the story here. A TV movie was made of the incident with Harry Hamlin and Teri Garr, but it was filmed at an old vacated hospital in Salt Lake City and not the real Alta View.
The morning after the incident I turned on CNN to see "my" hospital on national TV.

Here we are after walking around the whole hospital complex. We've exited on the north side. I estimate the hospital is about half a block long.

We're heading back down 9400 South Street. The steepest hill. Quite a grade; 9400 South is a major artery to ski resorts, but on real snowy days I have seen the police block it off. Too dangerous.

Back on Flint Drive heading for our street, eager to get inside and start a day full of sitting at the computer, watching TV, eating and growing the daily 100 pounds of lead in my ass.

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