Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An Abandoned Motel - Pix and a Story

This past Monday, Ariana and I went on a photo safari to an abandoned motel on the east side of town.

Ever since I had noticed the motel, which was across the street from the park where I take Kane, I had been curious about going back to it to explore and take pix.

Anyhow, Monday was the day I finally got around to doing that.

Approaching the motel was a bit difficult. Because it had been in such disrepair, there was no driveway that I could pull into. With the ground being broken up and strew with rubble, I was concerned that I would puncture a tire.

This archway was an easily noticeable feature from the road.

One day, I notice a young couple at the motel. The girl, in her white summer dress, was posing in the archway while her boyfriend or husband took pictures.

Because the sun was close to setting, the mosquitoes started coming out in full force. I was barely at the front of the motel when they started attacking me full force.

That broken door leads to the courtyard behind the front of the building.

It looks like a courtyard now,

but I am sure that it was a big room.

This small section of linoleum is proof that the courtyard was once an interior space.

However, with decades of decay, Mother Nature started taking over.

As with any abandoned building, expect to find graffiti.

Graffiti and decay often lends itself to creating a rich pallet of textures and colors.

This is one of my favorite pix from the series of abandoned motel photos.

Some of the walls in the courtyard had inspirational graffiti.

And it was kind of nice to see graffiti that had a positive message for a change.

Where a ceiling had been, there is now a canopy of leaves.

A doorway leads to the rear of the building,

where I found this odd room sticking out. Was it a bathroom at some point?

There was more to the abandoned motel than what was visible from the road. This stone retaining wall was along side a path, which was once a driveway,

that led uphill to another building out back.

Not being visible from the road, this building was most heavily hit by graffiti artists.

The walls were tagged both inside and out.

With some graffiti, one had to wonder what the messages meant,

while on other walls, the messages were clear. But before, you get the idea that these words are conveying an uplifting thought, think again. (These words are lyrics from a Lil Wayne song. And if you click on the link, you'll see what I mean.)

Some graffiti was creepy, adding to the already creepy vibes of the place.

And some hinted at secrets that no one would ever know.

While not all the walls fell victim to the spray can, they all fell victim to decay.

The ceilings, too, showed great decay.

And in some areas you could see the blue sky through the gaping holes.

There were textures to behold on the ground.

Some areas still had the smallest hints of what the floors could have looked like.

It was not difficult to find artful arrangements of rubble on the ground. And with the sun being close to setting, the lighting was glorious.

After we explored the back building, we discovered yet another building,

with green boarded up windows, a bit more further out.

Walking through these 2 hidden buildings, one could not help but think what a perfect backdrop they would have made for a scary horror movie.

(This is the same view as above, but using a flash.)

One can only guess as to the purpose of this curious hole in the wall.

As with the other buildings, there were plenty of open window spaces

and open areas in the ceiling.

But my favorite part of this building was this beautiful, majorly distressed green door.

I just loved the colors, textures, and lighting.

We would have stayed longer, but we were already losing the light, and the mosquitoes were getting even more fierce.

As we walked down the path to the car, I thought a caught a whiff of a Black and Mild cigar. And with my previous thought being about the horror movie setting of this place, it did not take all that great a leap in imagination to wonder if there were some miscreants in our midst, who were lying in wait, trying to decide whether to quietly let us pass or take us out and chop us into tiny little pieces.

Obviously, they stayed hidden and allowed us to pass.

We're not done yet.

It's story time now.

The day after our photo safari, Ariana showed to her coworkers the pix that she took on her camera. And one of those coworkers told her the story of the abandoned motel.

Whether the story - or parts of it - are true or not, it's hard to say. I was not able to find any information online.

But the story goes:

This motel was known as the Stumblers' Inn. That may not have been its official name, but rather a name that the locals called it. The reason for that name was that there was a bar near the motel. And after the bar would close up for the night, the drunks from the bar would stumble their way to the motel.

Supposedly the city never tore down the motel was because it was considered to be a historical landmark.

And there is a gruesome story associated with the Stumblers' Inn as well.

The story goes:

Sometime in the 50s, a man killed his 5-year-old-daughter in one of the motel rooms.

He would not allow her out of the room, not even when she needed to go to the bathroom. As such, the little girl peed on the floor. When that happened, the father flew into an insane rage and killed the little girl by force-feeding her Tabasco and smashing her against the wall.

Truth or urban legend?

Who's to say.

But one thing I will say is that in the "666" room, Ariana found an old broken doll. And that was the room that gave her the creepiest vibes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Than Just Wiping Bums

It took my dear friend Ruth in Australia to point out to me that there was more going on in my feelings towards my job that just complaining about having to toilet patients and clean up after them when they wet their beds.

(Would you believe that I even learned how to change a bed with a patient still in it?)

My friend pointed out that in my emails I have also poignantly written about my patients, the miracles that I witnessed, and the amazing amount of information that I learned about traumatic brain injuries. She said, "It's obvious that you care about your patients and feel more passion about your job than you realize. I think you should give that some thought."

And I did.

Upon meditating on her words, I realized that she was right. And I realized that I wanted to learn more and become more involved.

So, a few days ago I put in a request to be transferred to the morning shift so that I could have more interaction with the patients, learn more about what goes on, and participate in their treatments and therapies.

(I also had my personal and selfish reasons. I wanted to work on a shift where I could once again have a life - and my weekends off.)

Traumatic brain injuries are a personal issue for me. My husband has experienced multiple head injuries, and there have been recent studies about the cumulative effects of multiple TBIs.

Also, I was raised by a father who suffered a major TBI in the 40s (when there was no such thing as TBI science and research) and who had discharged himself from the hospital before completing his treatment and recovery.

And just a few years ago, I discovered that my mother, too, had a TBI from the same accident that my father was involved in, and that her personality changed as a result of that accident.

Do you know what a mind-blowing concept it was to discover that my sister and I were both raised by brain-damaged parents?

So working at this job is like coming around full circle.

Maybe this job is where I am meant to be - at least for the time being. And as long as I'm at this job, I am going to use it to learn as much as I could so that I, too, could participate in helping miracles unfold, whether it's at work or right under my own roof.

After all, it is no accident that my workplace is often referred to as an "environment of pioneering miracles."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Support - and Effort - Is Everything

I work in a rehab/assisted living facility for patients with post-acute traumatic brain injuries.

Our patients are all examples of how the course of one's life can change, dramatically, in a split second.

Many of them do have full, or as close to full as possible, recoveries. But there are also many whose lives will be permanently changed. They will have to learn to adapt to and live with the new limitations that have been imposed on their bodies and minds.

Each brain injury is as unique as each patient.

Some patients work really hard and make great progress. Some start out making progress, but then give up as the therapies get more challenging.

The road to recovery is very difficult and painful.

There are some patients who do seem to make much effort in the first place. There are some where effort does not seem possible, either through physical or mental means.

And we have also had patients who have surprised us - patients that we thought would not get better but who have managed to make great strides.

One of those patients was the Appalachian hillbilly college history professor who was a passenger in a car that was involved in a serious wreck.

She was a level 3 (requiring 24-hour within arm's reach supervision) for the longest time. The hillbilly prof was confused, not lucid a good part of the time, and not aware of her safety.

She also had mental health issues, which were controlled with medication. After her brain injury, however, they percolated to the top, often making her delusional or downright paranoid.

When the hillbilly prof first came in, we could not even allow her to stand up and walk to the bathroom at night because that would involve having to put on her back brace, which she was supposed to have off at night. We had to give her the bed pan instead.

She had at least 16 surgeries within a month of her accident, some of them being skin grafts.

The hillbilly prof now is walking on her own, and has been for quite some time. She occasionally gets confused and disoriented, but she's nowhere near as bad as she used to be.

Being originally from Appalachia and proud of her hillbilly roots, music is a big thing in the hillbilly prof's life. In addition to being a history professor, she is also a musician, as is her husband (who is also a music professor). A major step in her progress involved her love for music, when she went from sustaining a note for 5 seconds to sustaining one for 25 seconds.
She and her husband were ecstatic.

The hillbilly prof may be getting discharged soon. She may not be able to return to her job as college professor because her brain is still a bit scrambled from the accident. But who knows? Maybe that miracle will happen further down the road.

Like the cowboy, the Appalachian hillbilly prof has come a long way. And like the cowboy, she has had incredible family support. Her husband has been down to the center nearly every day to visit with her and take her out to dinner or bring her back home so that she could enjoy the company of their one million cats.

(Please do read about the cowboy, especially the beginning of the blog that tells you what his story was. Watching the cowboy's progress on the road to recovery is like watching a miracle unfold! His story has got to be one of the most inspiring stories to cross my work's threshold.)

It seems as though the patients with the biggest family support are the ones who make the biggest progress. And that makes me believe that family involvement is a very important component to a patient's recovery.

We had one patient who had very little family support. Part of it could have been that her family lived far away. But even then, they could have called more often. We did have video phones for patients whose families were more than 100 miles away.

She had not seen her kids in 15 - 18 months. In fact, she could not even talk to them on the phone. For some reason, the rest of her family would not permit this patient contact with her kids, which further increased her sorrow.

The patient was wheelchair bound and needed assistance in dressing, bathing, and going to the bathroom.

One of her goals was to be able to put her arms around her kids and hug them.

For awhile, she was showing improvement - increasing the time she was on the treadmill or increasing the distance she was able to walk down the hall without her wheelchair.

What held her back was her fear. She had fallen a couple of times and was afraid that she was going to fall again. She allowed that fear to control her. So eventually, she stopped making the effort that she was making before. The progress that she made stopped and then took several backwards steps.

The patient was discharged and sent to live in a nursing home that was closer to her family.

One cannot help but wonder how far this patient would have gone if she had more family support - if her family was there, urging her on, and urging her not to give up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sometimes It Pays to Suck At Something

My work had a summer party for its staff and their families today. The party was held at a local bowling hall not too far from where I live.

After sharing a well-intentioned, but less-than-satisfying meal, we were divided into teams of 8 and sent out into the bowling lanes to play.

Now I haven't bowled in decades, and the last time I did, it was with duck pins, not the big-ass pins using the big-ass balls.

And the last time I played, my score was more fitting for golf than it was for bowling. Obama would have easily whooped my butt in bowling.

Well, it was no different tonight.

Out of all the players, I had the lowest score. No big surprise there. I predicted that would happen. But that wasn't all that bad.

You see, there were prizes awarded tonight for the best player and for the worst player. Both of us won $50 gift cards to the Main Event, an entertainment venue that features bowling, billiards, laser tag, arcade games, and other fun stuff to do.

I am especially looking forward to playing laser tag, having played it several years ago at Ariana's friend's b-day party. And the laser tag set up at the Main Event looks a helluva nicer and more cool than the one I played at in Massachusetts.

Laser tag is more my style. Sure it gets the adrenaline going and works up a sweat, but at least it doesn't involve heavy balls. The knuckles on my right hand, especially my middle finger, are still quite sore from hefting those heavy big-ass bowling balls.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Doggie Fun

Today, Kane and I visited my friend Marilyn and her dog Lucy Locket.

This was the first time that the 2 dogs met, but you'd never know it from the fun they had chasing each other.

And after all that hard running, it was time to cool off in the pool.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Exploring New Trails

Yesterday, after our usual romp at Mackenzie Park, I decided to take a drive out to the Dunbar Historical Lake Park. That area was suggested by a young man at Mackenzie Park. He said that there were all sorts of trails behind the lake.

Since Kane and I had already spent about 30 - 45 minutes at Mackenzie Park, our trip to the canyon lake at Dunbar Historical Lake was to be just a very brief reconnaissance mission.

And after determining that the trails at Dunbar Lake were indeed worth exploring, Kane and I came back the following day for some more thorough exploration.

There are several trails - mainly for motor bikes and mountain bikes - crisscrossing through the back of of the park. There was no way that we could cover the entire terrain in 2 hours.

One the side of one trail was some farm land. I couldn't tell what the crop was. I was too far away to determine that.

All through the park there were various flowers. I had no idea what these were, but they did look pretty.

Some small yellow flowers like the kind I would see back east.

Leguminous pods from the mesquite tree. Back east mesquite wood would be sold for barbecue flavoring. Here mesquite grows all over the place. It's sort of considered to be a nuisance tree.

This flower looks almost like the purple asters that grow in Massachusetts in late September. If it's the same type of flower, it's not surprising that it's blooming now. The weather here is warmer. I even saw Rose of Sharon in bloom last week. In Massachusetts it doesn't bloom until the end of July or beginning of August.

A view from one side of the trail.

And a view from the other side of the trail. It's amazing that this kind of wilderness is found right in the city!

Another mesquite with pods.

And just a little down the path is a mesquite that is still in bloom.

Close-up of a thistle blossom.

A thistle plant. Hey! At least I recognized that plant.

A plant with tiny purple blossom that look as though they could be in the nightshade family.

More mesquite. It's everywhere.

So are vines like this. They were everywhere.

And they cover a lot of ground.

A dead tree always adds a picturesque element.

Rather sculptural, isn't it?

I discovered this cactus in fruit. It looks like someone took a barrel cactus and buried it in the ground up to its top.

Yellow flowers.

Tiny white flowers.

More thistles.

Tiny white daisy-like flowers. I saw these in Massachusetts, too, but I don't remember what they are.

One of the many yuccas. They have already finished blooming and now have large seed pods where the flowers used to be.

Here's a close-up of the yucca seed pods. This stalk was so weighed down by the heavy seed pods that it bent sideways.

Prickly pear cacti among the high plains scrub.

When I first saw this the day before, I was rather put off by the blatant human intrusion on this beautiful wilderness. But I suppose that any abandoned building structure is fair game for graffiti artists.

Graffiti detail.

More graffiti detail.

And still more some detail.

Kane is probably pretending that he tagged that wall. LOL

A view of the opposite tagged wall.

Graffiti on the outside wall.

Here's the front of the structure.

Some yellow flowers near the graffiti structure.

Close-up of a delicate purple fringy flower.

Here's the same flower from a side view.

One of the trails that Kane and I explored.

As usual, Kane found a muddy patch and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Mysterious white flower buds that have yet to open. I wonder what the flowers will look like.

Another mess of mesquite.

Some of the beautiful wilderness I encountered on our hike.

This trail almost looks like a path leading to an ocean beach in Massachusetts. But we're quite a way from any ocean in the high plains of west Texas.

What sort of critter made these tracks?

It looks like it could be the fore foot track of a raccoon. I heard that the raccoons at Dunbar Lake get very large - almost as big as dogs.

Some unusual whip-like greenery growing by the side of the trail.

Kane is hoping to find some bunnies to chase.

The birds in the trees and brush took flight when Kane approached.

I couldn't believe how blazing white this trail was. Maybe some day we'll see where this white trail leads.

Even though we may feel as though we're in the wilderness, there are signs of civilization nearby. (Can you see the wind turbines in the back?)

Some ground cover with teeny tiny white flowers.

I'm not sure what this is. Maybe a water processing plant, perhaps?

More purple thistles.

A lone tiny yellow flower.

I don't know what this plant was either. Perhaps something in the nightshade family?

A tall sunflower.

A sunflower close-up.

Sunflowers were growing everywhere, which was nice, because sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers. It's hard not to feel cheerful when you look at the bright sunny face of a sunflower.

Here's more of those mysterious vines that I saw growing everywhere.

And look what I found growing at the end of one of those vine! Is it a melon or a squash? I will have to return to find out.

Guess I was right about being close to a water processing plant.

Sunflowers even invaded the water company property. I took this pic through a gate in a tall chain link fence.

More sunflowers in front of the mysterious white conduits.

And just what in the hell are these conduits for? For processed water?

This was the only area - by the water company property - I found these orange flowers.

These flowers had gone by, but I liked the look of the seed balls. They reminded me of planetary spheres.

More sunflowers.

And more mesquite.

I told you they were everywhere.

By now, Kane and I finished our trail exploration and were heading back to the car.

But before going into the car, I wanted to go across the road to check the lake.

Look at the cattails here! That's not something you would expect in a semi-arid area like Lubbock.

And would you expect this lake in Lubbock, too? This is certain not playa lake. Dunbar Lake is part of the canyon lake system that runs through Lubbock. (See the clouds reflected in the lake?)

There's good fishing at this lake. In fact, it is a very popular fishing area here in Lubbock. People catch perch, catfish, carp, and bass.

Walking along the top of the lake dam. (I think it's a dam.)

The top of the damn slopes down to the road level. Ducks enjoy swimming here. These ducks were starting to climb up the slope of the dam. But when they saw Kane, back into the water they went. They didn't know that he just wanted to say "Hi."

Here's a waterfall that flows from the top of the dam.

Here's a side view of the waterfall looking from the road.

And here's the waterfall head on.

The water then flows under the road and comes out on the other side of the road like this.

I heard that this water then flows out through the wooded area, goes under the railroad tracks, and collects in a catch basin where the carp like to hang out.

Hmmm. Sounds like another fun place to explore the next time we visit.