We have reached a difficult stage in our struggle with Audrey's son's battle with depression and pharmaceutical drug addiction. Over the last four to five years we have tried moving him to new cities, introducing him to new living and work environments. None of it was working, so last summer Audrey put him into a treatment program in LA, where he has been since, until he showed up recently having been kicked out of the program. He admitted he was using again.
Even if we wanted, we didn't have the money to put him back into treatment. Living with us in this condition isn't an option, but we couldn't just put him out on the streets. With some experience in this area, I had to do something. In the mid-1990s I had my own struggle with hard drugs, which I finally left behind through a combination of hiking around the mountains of Oregon, and eventually developing my career as a software architect.
The kid was in need of help, and it was clear to me that he was in no condition to help himself -- so I stepped in. We rented a truck and headed into the mountains out of Los Angeles. We spent a few nights "adjusting" in hotels along the way, where he had his own room, taking things slow.
Eventually, we ended up at Yosemite National Park in the Sierras, taking in the beauty of the valley, putting some thought into what would do next...
After leaving the park we headed north on back roads, winding through the California hills, and eventually making our way through Sacramento, up highway 80 into Reno, Nevada. My destination was Peterson Mountain, at a little place in the desert named Hallallelah Junction. Our goal was to dig for quartz crystals.
The purpose of the trip was to get as far from what was, and get us closer to nature while also giving us something to focus on -- Peterson Mountain was perfect. Digging for crystals was the best physical distraction I could come up with on such short notice.
As we traveled and worked I thought deeply about what helped me in my own struggle. For me, focusing on the mental challenges that came with computer programming helped me find my way. After some brainstorming, we settled in on something to do with drones, photos, and videos in order to provide this mental stimulation. With this in mind, when we rolled through Reno, we picked up a Phantom 3 Pro Drone, and a GoPro. I didn't want this to be just about nature and busy work, and I wanted to make this process something the kid would find interesting.
We had our way forward. We'd travel the mountains documenting everything we saw with our new drone, and GoPro, developing our skills along the way. Along the way, we could keep ourselves busy with work like digging for gems, while documenting the story.
We had done well in the mountains of Nevada / California, hopefully setting the tone for what we were now calling Drone Recovery.
We came down off the mountain, and Audrey had to head back to LA for work, and the kid and I continued to follow the mountains north. We purchased a used Subaru in Nevada, geared up, and began our trip.
We had planned to stop in Mt Shasta and do some more drone flight time in, but unfortunately the rain and wind prevented us from taking flight. So we continued north, ending up in Oregon by the weekend. After the obligatory Mom visit and visiting some friends, we headed up to one of the most familiar hikes for me at the Oregon Caves National Monument -- The Big Tree Loop Trail.
It was wet and cold, so again there was no drone flight, but we hiked 2 miles in and then the same back out, after seeing the widest Douglas Fir tree you will ever see.
The meadows were beautiful as well...
The trees were big!!
We sat under the cedar trees waiting for the rain to pass...(several times).
We came back to the valley floor with plenty of daylight, so we headed out the Illinois River to see the swinging bridge.
We will be coming back here for future drone flights, but for now, we went up the river to a wide boat landing in the river to practice some more.
The following day we kept the momentum building -- no rest for the wicked. We headed up to Babyfoot Lake where we took a short, but rougher hike through a burn area. When we reached the top, it was windy, wet, and cold, so we decided to call off the hike.
As we were driving down, there was a log partially blocking the road, which the kid suggested we clear. We quickly got to work with our axes, chopping it into thirds, which enabled us to easily roll out of the way.
Of course, it took a little longer than we expected, but this was the beginning of our second work-related focus -- helping clear trails along the way. This sort of task will give us an additional purpose as we hike, in addition to taking photos and videos with our new equipment.
Once we were done clearing the road the weather had let up some, so we turned around and continued down the trail to Babyfoot Lake. The trail is rough, but fortunately someone had worked hard to clear many of the snags which had fallen over the trail through the burn area.
The area around Babyfoot Lake was burned in the Biscuit Fire, a wildfire that took place in 2002 burning nearly 500,000 acres. At first glance, everything was burnt, but then you begin to see the rebirth that is taking place -- that rebirth is everywhere!
The lake looked nothing like the small mountain lake in the woods of my youth, but it was still very beautiful. It was another wet and cold day but provided us with plenty to do and see. Again we came down to the valley floor with daylight left, so I set out to on my favorite swimming places, "Whiskey Hole," to plan for a future drone flight down the creek bed.
I would like to conduct a drone flight down the creek bed when the weather gets better -- perhaps starting at the parking lot and ending at the crystal clear swimming pool below.
This all just concluded a couple hours ago. I think we are about a week into this journey? To be honest I've kind of lost a sense of time. We are sore. We are tired. I will keep up this pace throughout the summer. I have a list of 30+ trails targeted for coming weeks, with more planned after that.
I do not know what the summer will hold, but I'm hoping to help him get healthy and strong and to build his confidence. Along the way, I also want to help him build his drone, photography, videography, and storytelling skills. Maybe teach him a little about the "cloud" side of all of this as well.
This is Drone Recovery. I didn't plan this. I hatched and evolved this idea driving from LA into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, into Nevada, and on Peterson Mountain. I am making this up as I go along, pushing us ever forward, building strength, confidence, and momentum, and building drone, video, and photo skills along the way.
My goal is that he comes out of the other side in the fall, with a new view on life, and the ability to keep up this going on his own.