Mark vs Cancer

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Small Town Roller Coaster

Here's a picture of one of Worland's many thrilling attractions, the "Screaming Dragon" Roller Coaster at Six Flags Over Worland . . .

Just kidding. You may be surprised, but there's nothing quite so spectacular as a roller coaster in these parts. There is, however, a kiddie park with a twisty slide.

But major theme parks aside, we have ridden a roller coaster of another sort in our first six weeks here, both enjoying and struggling with the realities of small town living. This weekend provided a stark contrast in our feelings for Worland.

Friday was supposed to be my day off. Since I had to drop Joy off at school anyway, I thought I'd stop by the hospital to finish a few things up. Four frustrating hours later, I stumbled home for a late lunch, my head reeling from a number of difficult, stressful, and wholly unexpected encounters: drug-seeking patients, complicated referrals, very abnormal lab results, scheduling issues, difficult families, delinquent charts, etc. It was the curse of the small town doctor visiting me for the first time: the inescapability from patients and problems.

Luckily, I had something to look forward to that night: Elizabeth's and my first Worland date.

But, boy, was that a bomb (or a fire), as driving down the main drag, we saw the venerable, ancient Worland Community Center engulfed in smoke and flames. We spectated there with the other half of Worland for a bit, then headed to a very lousy (but free) meal at a local Mexican restaurant. With the meal stomached and the Community Center burning to the ground, we then looked for something fun to do.

But nothing came to mind. We could have gone bowling, or . . . what else? We couldn't think of anything else, so we drove in the country around town for a hour, burning gas and talking, which was fun. But looking out from the edges of town across the barren desert stretching endlessly in every direction provoked a feeling of intense isolation for the first time since we've been here. We came home feeling bored, lonely, and stuck. We comiserated for the rest of the night, as both of us vented some negative feelings about the town that we've been politely withholding from each other.

But Saturday morning, something great happened. We met two new friends who have kids with similar ages to ours at a local park. The kids played wonderfully together while Elizabeth and I played tennis with the other couple . . . and we had a wonderful time. The weather was perfect the courts were fantastic (a very cool astro-turf court with light layer of sand over it that plays like clay), and we were very evenly matched with a fun and friendly couple. Then, we got to go home, and I enjoyed a Saturday full of great football games.

Overall, I love living here. And other than a few hours on Friday night, I haven't felt deprived of any big city conveniences. There are downsides to living anywhere, but a few good friends, some nice amenities (minus a community center), nearby mountains, and a strong church make this a most desirable place.

Now if we could just get a decent restaurant . . .


Wendi said...

Wow...sounds like a nasty day at the practice. I feel for you, although in recent days I too was one of those folks bugging you for medical attention on your day off.

**Thanks very much for helping me out, by the way -- the foot is healing slowly but surely, and I even wore normal lace-up shoes today for the first time in about 4 weeks!**

The Worland community center burning down is a real shame, but I'm guessing another will quickly be built in it's you've described, there's just not that much to do in a teeny little town, and as such they'll need to replace it asap (having very briefly lived in a pop. 5500 town myself, I can back up everything you're saying). Believe it or not, the town I lived in had a bowling alley that was only open seasonally. I didn't even know that there was such a thing as bowling season!!

Best of luck with the lame restaurant situation too...that's something that would really depress me! :-( But perhaps one day Matt and I could move up there and open a cafe / accounting firm...any other takers? ;-)

Dad said...


Welcome to the world of small town America. Your mother and I had the same kind of "cultural shock" when we first moved to Jeff City. Took a good two years to kind of get into that mindset, but once we did it was a very nice place to raise a family and live. That was a metropolis of 35,000 versus 5,000 so I can only imagine what it is going to be like for you guys.

Sounds like we had better count on a cook out at your place rather than finding a restaurant. I just want hang with your family anyhow.

Take care Doc. You are needed there for lots of reasons.


Danalin said...

Is there at least some type of scandal to talk about with the community center burning down? Any arson suspects? That could keep everyone busy for a while with speculation and be an interesting, albeit sad, diversion.
My aunt and uncle live in SUPER small town Idaho (Victor) and when my family visited one weekend, our visit made its way into the newspaper "The Mann family, from Las Vegas have been visiting this weekend with the Woolstenhulme's..." We felt like movie stars! See what you can do when we come to visit about getting us a mention in the Worland News. :)

Danalin said...

Oh, and good luck with the continued adjustment! You can't fully appreciate the highs and the great things in life without a few lows. I'll try to think of some small-town date ideas for your next Friday night on the town.

Wendi said...

Small Rural Town Date Idea #1:

Cow Tipping by Moonlight

(Pwah! :-D Sorry Mark & Liz, but I just couldn't restrain myself...)

Tankfos said...

You can take Liz to the Thermapolis hot springs of stink. If you can get Liz to go down the Blue Thunder slide she will love it. I made the mistake of washing the shorts I wore there with the rest of my clothes and man did the rest of my clothes stink. I really did like the feel of Worland when me and the Goose were there, but I was only there for two days. Keep up the good work Doc.