First of All –
- First birds: American goldfinch, common goldeneye duck
- First time visiting the ER on the cruise
- First x-rays taken on the trip
- Split Rock Point
- Schuyler Island
- Valcour Island
- Miles Cruised today: Power: 41; Sail: Motor sailed, light air, 3 hours
- Total Miles Cruised to date: 5,279
- Hours Underway: 6 1/2
- Fuel: 13.4 gallons; $45; 6.5 mpg
- Morning House Battery Reading: 12.84
- Wind Speed: 5-7; Wind Direction: variable
- Daily High Temperature: 82
- Water Temperature: 57
My last chance to get my sciatica evaluated before we enter Canada will be in Plattsburgh, so that’s where we’re headed today. I’m hoping that, if we get an early start, we can arrive by mid day and still have enough time to get to the ER in the afternoon. I hate the thought of placing myself at the mercy of the health care system, and fully expect that many days could get consumed in obtaining evaluation and followup. First things first, though, so by 5:30am we’re off the dock and heading back down the winding, glassy smooth, 7 miles of Otter Creek. It chilled down enough overnight to enable a light fog to form on the water surface and out in the adjacent marshland, and with the early morning sun filtering between the trees, it’s an enchanting scene. We pass small families of geese and witness a bit of drama as a cooper’s hawk mounts an attack on a little songbird. In the midst of the dogfight a crow intervenes and runs the hawk off. A little further downstream we see a beaver contentedly muching a sprig of willow along the streambank.
Once out in the main lake I set our course northward, toward Split Rock Point. When we reach that landmark it’s easy to see how it earned its name. A small lighthouse is situated on the point, and an osprey family has built a huge nest on top of a steel tower nearby. Beyond the point the lake widens considerably. A light easterly breeze kicks up, just enough for me to raise the main and let out the jib. We get a bit of an extra push, and I appreciate the added bonus of being able to dry out the sails, which are wet from recent rains. It’s a beautiful day, with clear, azure sky, warming sunshine, and just enough breeze for comfort. We gradually leave the higher Adirondack peaks of New York behind us as we draw near to Schuyler Island. It was here, on the day after the Battle of Valcour Island, that Benedict Arnold let his battered, retreating fleet for much needed repairs before continuing his desparate race down the lake. Our course is ever northward, up to Valcour Island itself. I opt to pass between the Island and the New York shore, cruising directly through the scene of the battle. The island is quiet and peaceful today, lush with forest, a few sailboats tucked into inviting coves here and there.
Just a few miles beyond, a forest of masts comes into view, marking the location of Plattsburgh Boat Basin. I’d hoped to stay in the city marina, but am disappointed to learn that they’re not fully open yet, so we head for the privately operated marina next door. Active Captain reviews are less than glowing, however, if I’m to visit the ER, this is where we must go. We stop first at the fuel dock to gas up, and then get directions to our slip. The dockhand doesn’t bother to walk over and help us in, he’s out of block ice, they don’t have wifi, and we’ll have to walk up to the store to get a key to the restrooms. Pretty much what the reviews described. Once we get secured, I haul out my bicycle so I can get over to the hospital, which is about 2 or 3 miles away. Ironically, my hip and leg are feeling improved today, but I know I still need to get checked out.
Pedaling the bike is comfortable enough, and it only takes 15 minutes or so to reach the hospital. I follow the signs to the ER entrance and walk over to the intake counter. After explaining my situation, I’m pleased to hear that they have a “fast track” option, and I’m in it. With minimal delay I’m seen by a knowledgeable physician’s assistant, who evaluates my problem. She orders up x-rays and, after they’re reviewed, tells me that I have compression in some lower back discs which, in conjunction with some body movement on my part, have caused the sciatic nerve to become painful. She concurred with the prednosine I’ve been taking, and also prescribes a topical salve which will help reduce inflammation. She suggests using cold packs and being careful with body mechanics, and finishes with the hopeful observation that, given the cause of my pain, with proper care it will likely resolve itself. I pedal over to the nearby pharmacy, pick up my new prescription and some cold pack items, and head back downhill toward the marina, resolved to follow doctor’s orders as best I can.
It’s a strange scene back at the boat. The warming weather has stimulated a virtual blizzard of cottonwood seed, drifting on the light air and falling all over the boat. Comfortable temps have also brought out the power boat crowd, the kind which love to sit in the sterns of their boats and on the dock, drink heavily and laugh loudly. The party next to us is so loud Sandy and I can barely hear ourselves talk. Eager as we are to get out of here, we will spend tomorrow here, tending to light chores and taking it easy. I’m hoping that the good day I’m having today can be repeated tomorrow, signalling that I’m finally on the mend.