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Travels with Flat Stanley

Sequim dentist Dr. Gary Lange traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal, earlier this month for three weeks.

With the help of three other dentists, he gave free dental exams, repairs and extractions to 125-150 children per day in need.

After every three days of work, the natives showed Lange and the rest of the crew around Nepal. They experienced the culture, had tea with a group of Buddhist monks, saw a group of Hindu painted men on the street and visited Patan Durbar Square, the oldest city in Kathmandu known as the "city of fine arts."

After his work was done, Lange flew into Lukla Resort, a small airport in eastern Nepal rumored to be the "most dangerous airport in the world." The 1,729-foot runway is only 65 feet wide and has a 12-percent incline. It's the gateway to where many people start their trek to climb Mount Everest.

Lange didn't climb Mount Everest to the top, but he hiked to a few of the lookout points, which he described as "the most beautiful place in the world," surrounded by pine trees and rhododendrons in full bloom with a panoramic view of the Himalayas.

"It was unreal," Lange said.

"When I look at the pictures I took, it's like meditating."

Upon returning home, Lange traveled up Hurricane Ridge for the day.

"It's a toss up," Lange said about the popular peninsula tourist attraction.

"It's about as beautiful as Mount Everest and is in our backyard."

At his dental hygienist's recommendation - whose husband is a teacher in Port Angeles - Lange took "Flat Stanley," the title character of a 1964 children's book that has since become popular in schools.

The Flat Stanley project encourages students to create their own paper "Flat Stanley's" to send with people traveling the world. Caretakers of Flat Stanley are asked to keep a journal of their adventures and mail them back to the owner to educate them about where Stanley has been.

Lange took hundreds of pictures of Stanley climbing Mount Everest, getting his teeth cleaned, going out for breakfast, visiting the market and exploring Sagarmatha National Park. He left Stanley with a group of schoolchildren in the town of Namche Bazaar.

Eventually, the paper character will be mailed back to Lange to be shared with schoolchildren in Port Angeles.

Lange's next charity dental expedition is scheduled for August to Kenya.



Ashley Miller can be reached at ashleyo@sequimgazette.com.



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