Life’s Little Surprises: In The Hands of Surgeons

Ten years ago my right knee gave up the fight to stay mobile after various injections and a partial knee replacement, it became time for a full court press with a total right knee replacement. But who would I have do the cutting?

The answer was in the form of a well known and highly respected surgeon, who had actually had done miracles with my mother-in-law’s shattered shoulder and upper arm suffered in a fall from some low steps onto an asphalt driveway. Her upper arm  and shoulder bones were literally left in fragments. The prognosis was grim. She quite likely would never regain the use of that arm. But thanks to her surgeon, she regained well over 80% of her range of motion and strength.

The surgeon, who had been a specialist in reconstructive surgery of the hands and arms, also added knee replacements to his practice that made my choice easy. As a matter of fact the replacement of my knee was one of the first dozen such operations under his knife. My surgery was different from the others he had done in that he first had to remove the partial replacement prosthesis before installing my new knee.

The operation was unremarkable and apparently successful in all regards. But later, when I started walking, I noticed one peculiarity. My right foot, which had previously tracked straight ahead, now canted out to the right giving me something like a duck  waddle. A few months later I learned that the new angle of my foot nearly had a fatal effect.

Several months after the operation I exhumed my motorcycle which had been patiently waiting in the barn for our first ride of spring. Everything went just fine until a car driver turned right into my path.

Some of you are probably not familiar with the operation of motorcycle brakes. The brake on the front wheel is controlled by a lever on the right handlebar, and the rear wheel brake is controlled by a foot lever operated by the right foot. Using the brakes becomes instinctual after many years in the saddle. But this time was different.

When I mashed the brakes this time, the front brake did its work, but my right foot in its new outward pointing direction, missed the brake pedal entirely. Opps! Fortunately some creative evasive maneuvering avoided a crash with the car. But it was way too close. Subsequently I practiced until the new foot moves matched the pedal location. End of that story…. Not quite.

Skip forward ten years and my left knee finally gave up the ghost and needed a replacement. Tis time I picked a different surgeon, one who had a glowing reputation for doing the “million dollar” knees of sports heroes. Just the thing for my $29.95 common everyday fellas’ knee.

I shared the story of my first replacement and even showed him the rebel foot as I stood in front of him trying to keep my feet parallel, and failing. But, point made, I thought.

By now you have already guessed the outcome of my second knee replacement. Yep, I woke up to symmetry: both feet now splayed outward an equal amount. He had done me the favor of eliminating the imbalance. I still walk like a duck today.

Circle the Lake


Below is a motorcycle tour in Chautauqua County, NY. Sharing much of the midwest in culture, Chautauqua is the westernmost county in New York. But Chautauqua County is rich in roads with many changes in elevation and many twists, turns, and curves. Not a technical sport bike challenge but rhythmic and mellow cruising through some of the best farm country in the East. Besides the roads, great places to eat and socialize are included. Enjoy breakfast then enjoy the ride!

Starting Point: Anywhere on the Route

This tour is a “Figure Eight” cruise. Our ride today is actually starting in Barcelona where Rt. 394 starts by the shores of Lake Erie just North of Rt. 20.  Besides, I want to have breakfast at Jack’s Barcelona Drive-In restaurant, a very biker friendly place with really good pie. That’s right, pies for breakfast. An old New Hampshire breakfast staple is apple pie with cheddar cheese.

Rt. 394 takes us through the village of Westfield and up the escarpment onto Chautauqua Ridge via Portage road and past the Portage Hill Art Gallery (The owner, author of this blog, is a 55 year veteran motorcyclist. It is a great stop for art lovers. They offer free delivery for any biker purchase too large to carry on your ride.).

As you continue south on Rt. 394, when the road stops climbing, you are riding over a continental divide. On the north slope where you have just been riding all waters flow northeast into the St. Lawrence river and eventually into the North Atlantic. But when you crest the height of land, the waters flow south into the Ohio River and the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

As you cruise through Mayville the road drops to the level of Lake Chautauqua and past the old trolley station and the Lakeside Inn by the Docks (one of the best biker bars in the county). Follow Rt. 394 southeast. If you like cheese stop at the Reverie Creamery (6.2 mi.) on the right …true gourmet cheeses. Then back on the road to the Jct. with I-86. Take the east-bound ramp (left) to cross the bridge over Lake Chautauqua  toward Jamestown. After the bridge take an immediate right exit then another right at the end of the off-ramp onto Rt. 430 East. Continue East on 430 toward Jamestown. Some great lake views ahead.

Reaching Jamestown Rt. 430 bears right at a traffic light and becomes Washington Ave. Take it for one mile and go right on W. 8th St. Then in .4 mi. turn right on Fairmount Ave. On the right is the outlet from Chautauqua Lake and McCrae park.

Continue West 2 miles to Celoron Park (on your right at the “T” intersection) where you can snap a selfie of you, your ride and “Scary Lucy”. Leaving the park head away from the Lake past the Moose Club for .2 mi. then right on Duquesne St. and in .3 mi. go right on Terrace Ave (just past the “Rod & Gun Club”.) Then in 2.4 mi. with the Lakewood town beach on your right turn left on Chautauqua Ave. In .2 mi. just past the gourmet Scallions Bistro, turn right at the “Stop” sign onto W. Summit Ave for 1 3/10 mi. to jct. Fairmont Ave (Rt 394 W.). Then West again on Rt. 394 until you get back to the I-86 bridge over the lake. But this time when you exit immediately on the East side of the bridge turn left on Rt. 430 into Bemus Point village. This is the “Party Town” of the Lake.

The Bemus Inn soon on the right is one of the best breakfast places anywhere. Their cinnamon buns are huge and delicious. At the stoplight in town on the left is the Ellicottville Brew Pub. Across the street find The Italian Fisherman restaurant on the lake. All three  worthwhile places to visit and dine. Also check out the Casino located next to the ferry dock. The Casino has dining on the lake, music, and much more. Bemus Point is a good place to just hang out and spend some time sight-seeing..

When ready to roll, follow Rt. 430 West. Shortly ahead is the Long Point State Park, a good place to stretch your legs exploring the point between the northern and southern basins of Chautauqua Lake. Returning to Rt. 430 West. Midway State Park is a wonderful stop if you have kids aboard on your ride. Then continue West to he village of Mayville bringing to a close your figure eight circumnavigation of Chautauqua Lake.

Hello world!

Like the West? Love tales of mountain men, wagon trains, gold miners, pioneers, outlaws, and cowboys?

That’s my love and that’s what I love to write about.  Just finished my first western novel, The Gold of Vanishing Creek.  The setting is Wyoming in the 1870s. The main character, Royal Kincaid, has been away from his home town of Willowaw after brutal fight with Warner Winthrop, the town bully and banker’s son who made the mistake of getting rough with a fourteen year old girl, Shannon, in Royal’s presence. The Sheriff of Willowaw gave Royal a choice – leave town or get locked up.

Royal returns after getting a note from Shannon telling him that his father, Owen Kincaid, has lost the family ranch and is missing.  Royal knows that is impossible and is determined to unravel the scheme.  But he is facing both the slick swindler and his crew of cowboys who act more like gun men, and also an unknown assailant who greets Royal home with a slug from a buffalo gun.

Right now I am learning about blogging (this is my very first), setting up a web page, and doing all the bits and pieces of publishing my novel.

Coming up to date, The Gold of Vanishing Creek should be available by the end of February. Stay tuned to this blog for details.

Please say “Hi” if you find this blog, and let me know about your interests!

D.D. Dowling