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I was in medical school, and it was the summer of 1986.

Besides the fact that I needed money and drove an Ice Cream truck (yes, an Ice Cream truck) that summer, a more important thing happened.  I drove from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Los Angeles, California in my little Chevy Sprint car.  It had 3 cylinders just like a motorcycle and got great gas mileage.

There was not a real gas shortage, but I was short on money. (Hence I drove an Ice Cream Truck ~ a pink one.

No one would do that unless they really needed the money.

Image 1. My Pink Ice Cream Truck. It made a great, loud music noise.

My son was then 9 years old; his best friend was Milton.  Milton was two years older than my son, putting him at 11 years of age.  When I drove from California to go finish out another year at Oral Roberts University School of Medicine, I thought it would be nice for my son to have a friend with him.  So we all drove back from Los Angeles to Tulsa, coursing along the 10 Freeway day and night.

It was a long, hard drive.  Milton started asking questions.

Picture this: Mountains appeared on the road before us.

Image 2. Straight Hwy 10. We headed into the mountains, then left them on the other side. Only then would we see another set of mountains just like these. They were exactly the same mountains, over and over again. How did they travel in horse wagons?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In the heat of the summer, one looked to the left and then to the right.

Heat waves glistened their form above the arid desert.

“When are we stopping to eat?” Milton asked.

We stopped to eat, and we stopped to drink.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Then we drove another 100 miles of flat desert…

the mountains before us appeared closer and closer.

Just as we passed the next mountain pass, yup.

You guessed it.

Another mountain pass was just in front of us, again.

Again and again we went through this abyss of endless road and mountain passes.

Milton was having a hard time, as this was quite monotonous.  

“Are we there yet?”

I couldn’t believe it when I heard it,

as my son had never asked me that question before.

“Wow, I said, “You’re not going to keep asking me, are you?”

Well, you would have to know Milton to know what I did to stop him from asking me the same question. Again.

You Gotta Have Faith


I turned up the music.

I had George Michael in my car, a tape cassette.

There were no DVDs, no CDs, no movies to watch.  Only music.  So I played the same tape, over and over again whenever Milton asked how long the drive was going to be.  Each, time, I was hoping it was negative reinforcement, but I actually liked the tape so I just turned it up louder and louder each time it played.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Ugh!” they said in unison.

“You are going to thank me for this when you grow up,” I said, “because every time you hear George Michael, you are going to remember this trip to Carlsbad Caverns.”

They looked at one another in disbelief; I peered at them in the rear view mirror –

that’s how I know.

Shaking their heads ‘no,’

they were certain this was certain and endless torture;

it would never, no, never ever be a funny memory!

We stared at another mountain pass before us.

One could not help but wonder about the frontier, the cattle and the wagons that had to tread across this ground hundreds of years ago.  How did they do it on foot?  It was hot.  It was dry.  It was cold at night.  The pioneers didn’t have Rest Stops and hotel rooms, and it seemed like such a difficult drive. How could frontier women deliver babies like this?

To provide some relief on this unending trip, I told the boys that I would take them to Carlsbad Caverns.  I had them look at the map as we turned off the 10 to drive south.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Little Milton was now twingling and twitching,

beside himself with “You Gotta Have Faith.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We neared the Caverns.

Milton threatened, “This better be worth it.”

Again, you had to know him.

My son, the ever-patient one, simply took it all in stride.

So we finally arrived at the Caverns,

took the staircase down
and several elevators
and it got cooler and cooler with each step.


 A welcome relief from the scorching heat,
soon the stalagmites and stalactites
jutted out in beauty all around us.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Oh, this is so worth it!” Milton exclaimed.

I just smiled.

At the evening’s end, we sat on the edge of a cave.

It was time for the bats to fly out.

We waited and waited and, you guessed it.  

Milton kept asking, “When are the bats going to come out?”

The audience peered at him in frustration and then several people told him to “Hush!”  Just then, we could hear it.  My son sat patiently waiting, trusting me on this one, too.

I’ll never forget how much I realized who he was as a person just now.

I really liked him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Like the ripples of water at a stream, it was smooth and soft at first.

Then as the bats neared, the enormity of their wings en masse revealed themselves.


A giant swoop echoed throughout.

There they went, just as fast as they came and in an instant or two, they were gone far away to look for food and stretch their upside-down wings from the effects of gravity.


Milton looked up at me and said, “This was Sooooo Worth it!”

The whole remainder of the drive, Milton never asked another question.

I just smiled.

 Of course, I turned up the tape and kept jamming to “You Gotta Have Faith.”
Cuz I gotta have faith.
I gotta have faith.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Read Dr Margaret Aranda’s Memoirs:

Age 1: A Baby in the Sky for Father’s Day

Age 2: The Making of a Woman Intensivist

Age 3: In the Blink of a Car

Age 4: Respond, Don’t React

Age 5: A Baby on the Edge

Age 6: Glistening in the Moonlight

Age 7: The Pigeon Boy, The Suction Bush and The Darkness

Age 8: Selling Cupcakes

Age 9: Sitting on the Edge of a Cave

Age 10: Mr Bubble Strikes Again

~ ~ ~

Additional Articles by Dr. Margaret Aranda

Organic Orange Blueberry Scones

Organic Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Organic Paleo Muffins

Organic Carrot Cake

Diabetes & Obesity

How are you Aging?

10 Complications of Diabetes

10 Health Benefits of the Low-Glycemic Diet

Chronic Metabolic Syndrome is Killing US

What does ‘Iatrogenic’ Mean?

What is a Diagnosis?

7 Ways that Chronic Pain Changes the Brain

What Matters to You: Patient Advocacy

From Dr. Forrest Tennant: Hyperalgesia: No Reason to Stop or Reduce Opioids



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