Montana and Colorado

Even though I had gotten up at 3:30 am and arrive at ONT on time, I’m too early; the plane has a mechanical problem, and the airline takes an hour to fix it. It would have been nice to sleep in. Luckily, I make it to Denver just in time for my connecting flight to Bozeman.

Montana seems to be a state with very trusting people. Getting my rental car, the agent hands me the key and has me check the car myself. There is no guard, no gate. Arriving in Big Sky, I check in at the Lone Mountain Ranch and ask for my key. “Oh, we don’t do keys. We’ve never had a problem in over 30 years.”

At the barbecue, I meet up with Stephen and Patty as well as other members of the Montana Hand Society. Rich and Kebrina arrive a little later, and we have a great time catching up.

I give three talks on Sunday morning, one on hand tumors and two on coding. We also discuss some of the interesting cases brought by several member surgeons.

When I last came to Yellowstone years ago while at the ABJS meeting, I missed the northwest corner. After the morning lectures, I drive down and enter through the West Entrance. Bison herds graze along the Madison River. Then out at the North Entrance, I visit the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, which are fantastic natural layered formations.

Bears are a problem up in the higher country around Big Sky. Monday morning, I hike through Beehive Basin, carrying bear spray as advised by so many people. While I didn’t encounter any on the trail, ¬†finally saw one digging through trash near the trailhead.

I arrive in Denver on Monday and join the American Orthopaedic Association’s Resident and Emerging Leadership Forums the next day. Ted and Dean both put on very nice programs.

The Opening Ceremony this year is particularly inspirational. The Association honored Dr. Howard Steel and highlighted his life. The Foundation Lecturer, Jeff Evans, describes teamwork, friendship and community through his work with a blind climbing guide and injured veterans.

One highlight is meeting up with Lawrence and Mandy. Mandy, who runs vacation food tours and maintain a food blog, had seen my Facebook post about my trip to Denver, and Lawrence then wrote me to get connected. We have an amazing dinner at Table 6, a farm-to-table local eat.

The Council of Orthopaedic Residency Directors starts on Friday with many informative sessions. Much of the talks about dealing with problem residents involve early and frequent effective communication and documentation. I give my talk that afternoon about our experience with basic surgical skills training.

On my last day in Denver, I take time to explore some highlights. I stumble upon the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society’s exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. At the Denver Art Museum, Nick Cave has a special exhibition called Sojourn, featuring soundsuits. Much like masks, the suit transforms the wearer through a magical separation from the surrounding world.

I learned a lot from the conferences and experiences I took part in. Now, it’s time to get back and catch up with work.

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