Broken Hip

Portland, OR, 1991

I had just turned 50 the previous August and then I lost my job, got lost in a Wilderness Area I didn’t know existed, and fell on my bike and broke my hip. On my birthday my wife had a wonderful surprise party at a friend’s house in Lake Oswego. Everyone was there, even friends and family I had not seen in years. I thought that it portended well my next fifty years. Wrong. But let’s take this one step at a time, shall we?

First, my wife had given me a new mountain bike for my birthday, a Specialized Rock Hopper. I took it to Trillium lake where I plotted out a ride for the mountain bike on maps I left on the table (in the event I might get lost). This bike had a small frame because the Bike Gallery sales lady suggested I might want a more aggressive bike than my Cannondale touring bike. And it had knobby tires.

So off I went carefully following the route I had planned on. I got behind a pickup truck toward the top of the dirt road I was following and was glad when he turned off and I could go by. I went on and found what I thought was the trail that would circle around and bring me back to the campground where my gear was. But this trail was too steep. I couldn’t ride the bike, so I walked. Luckily for me I had two water bottles and some chocolate covered coffee beans. I also had the odometer on the bike’s computer.

I got deeper and deeper into the woods until I knew I was going the wrong way. By this time I had gone far enough down that I didn’t want to go back, so I kept moving forward. I think I was angry at myself and didn’t want the sheriff’s department to have to send out people and dogs to find me.

Finally, I came out at the Dairy Queen on Highway 26 at Rhododendron. I called my wife in Portland and asked her to come rescue me. I had walked with my bike six miles through Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness (, which I didn’t know existed.

Later I figured out how I got lost. The pickup I was following turned off where I should have turned off to get the trail back to camp, so I didn’t see it.

Second, I had just finished my Ph.D. at the University of Oregon with David Moursund in Computers in Education. I did my dissertation while working for Portland Public Schools on how to succeed in implementing computers in education in the high schools (High School Computer Coordinators as Change Agents). I was the High School Instructional Technology person in the Curriculum Department at Washington High School at that time. I had researched four high schools, two successful and two not so successful and my conclusions were aimed at making all the high school teachers in Portland computer literate. That’s when they fired me after 8 years’ service in the Curriculum Department. (Also Ballot Measure 5 passed restricting funds for school districts and requiring the curriculum department to return the subject matter specialists back to the classroom.) Actually on the day after my big fiftieth birthday party there was a pink slip on my desk saying that the Curriculum Department no longer needed my services and that I should call personnel for a new job.

My friend Colin Karr-Morse was in the office looking for a physical science teacher for Marshall High School. I reported to work the next day.

Third, on Valentine’s Day another science teacher who rodeto work each day by bike with me decided to try to organize a student bike club. We got two experienced rides to ride with us down the I-205 bike trail towards Clackamas Town Center. After it started to rain we decided to stop in the parking lot of the mall and decide whether to continue or not. I followed the boys in and around a light in the parking lot and slipped, due to the knobby tires on my mountain bike and SPLAT! The boys called an ambulance and my friend gave me his coat to reduce chances of shock while we waited for the ambulance.

The doctor said I had sheared off the ball from my right fibula so cleanly he didn’t have to cut anything. My only rememory of this event was someone in the hospital singing “Let me call you sweetheart.” I think it was the Women’s barbershop quartet, the ‘Sweet Adelines’ I was out of the hospital in three days and into recovery at home for months.


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