Year End

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon

As I wrote a year ago, this is what I think of as the blogger’s version of the Christmas letter.  I didn’t send a letter out this year, but I did send out one of those fancy little Shutterfly cards with photos and sentiments.  I even managed to sign them and add a note or two.  Seems again that the tradition of Christmas cards is slipping away.  I do love getting them, so am trying to keep up with the sending. 

I almost decided to skip the summaries, but realized as I was watching the Google and Facebook versions roll by, that perhaps I wanted a bit more control over how I remembered my year.  Nothing helps me remember quite as much as my photos.  This time, however, I think I’ll keep the words short and just let the year roll by. 

We began a three month journey through the Southwest and into Florida immediately after Christmas, traveling south to Desert Hot Springs, on to Arizona and into Texas, seeing Big Bend National Park for the first time001 January California to Big Bend

Winter on the Texas Coast was a new experience, and we thrilled at the bird life, the beautiful beaches and meeting some of our favorite people002 January Texas Coast

Taking a break from the MoHo, we cruised the Western Caribbean for some gorgeous water and tropical lands.003 February Caribbean Cruise

Back on the mainland and continuing south into Florida, we enjoyed the beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, meeting more friends along the way.004 February Florida BeachesSomeone once said you come to Florida for the beaches, but you stay for the rivers.  That was true for us, it is the rivers that will call us back to the Sunshine State someday.005 March Florida RiversReturning west through Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Nevada was also filled with amazing new experiences, and more visits with family and friends.006 March Crossing the Country We couldn’t help but linger along the way home in the red soul of the world, the Colorado Plateau, where I at last walked the magnificent corridors of Antelope Canyon.007 March Lingering in the Southwest There is no better place to be in the springtime and summer than right here at home in Rocky Point, with short trips to our little Cottage in Grants Pass, family time with kids and friends, beach getaways, and lots of kayaking.008 Springtime at home Summertime travels took us north to a family reunion in Washington and farther north into Canada to camp and kayak along the gorgeous Kootenay Lake.  Camping trips to Great Basin National Park and beautiful Medicine Lake with lots of hiking and kayaking rounded out the summer.009 Summer Travels and Camping Fall was gorgeous, both in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, at Crater Lake with family for my birthday, and in Vermont celebrating a dear friend’s wedding.  10 Fall Travels Once again we are enjoying the Holidays at home, with a family Thanksgiving and Christmas here in Rocky Point.12 Thanksgiving and Christmas

Of course, our hearts are still missing our animals, Jeremy who left us in September, and Abby who passed peacefully at home just a month later.6-Jeremy the cat

No summary of the year however, would be complete without celebrating the beautiful people who crossed our paths and shared our lives and made everything richer with their friendship and love.

37-12-06-2014 Rocky Point Ladies Luncheon1

Blogger’s Version of the Christmas Letter

Do you love them or hate them?  Personally, I love the Christmas letters that we get from many people in our lives.  Sure, I remember previously hearing most of what I read, but not all at once and not always.  It is great to open an envelope from a long time friend and get a summary of their year, with photos of their kids and homes and favorite places.  Seems as though our little group of RV bloggers has taken to doing something quite similar, with wrap-up posts of their favorite travels, photos and experiences of the past year.  I love these posts as much as I love the Christmas letters, and the photos are easier to see! Sure, if I have followed you for a long time, and maybe even met you in person, your year end review will be the same for me, a review.  If however, you are someone I read but haven’t interacted with a lot, your year end review reminds me of who you are and where you have been.  Either way, it is wonderful to get these little summaries.  Besides, it lets me see what you think was the best part of your year, what was important to you, your favorite photos.  So, for me, and for you, this is my version of the Christmas Letter, the e-version. I decided to do some collages, and they are actually collages of collages. That is a lot of images, but the idea isn’t to review each image, but to get a feel for what that part of the year brought our way.

JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL

We spent much of January in Desert Hot Springs, and in early February we took an amazing trip to Las Vegas to see Elton John and the Valley of Fire.  Late February we spent time on the cold but beautiful northern portion of the Oregon and Washington Coasts, enjoying new places we hadn’t visited before. With snow at home in March, we reveled in a trip to sunny California for the Spring Equinox and gorgeous hikes at Pinnacles National Monument. In early April I drove with daughter number 1, Deborah, to her new life in San Antonio, Texas, and then came home to Easter with the local daughter number 3 and family before Mo and I took off on our amazing self guided tour of the covered bridges of Oregon.2012 1234

MAY     JUNE     JULY     AUGUST

May is full blown springtime on both sides of the Cascades here in Oregon and we enjoyed it to the fullest.  We watched our tulips bloom, cleaned up the gardens, and traveled to Woodburn for the annual Tulip Festival.  We also started looking for some property in Grants Pass and saw what many months later was to become our “cottage”.  June is the perfect kayaking month, and in between garden chores we kayaked new lakes and reservoirs, visited friends in Oroville, and once again I took a photo of wocus lilies on Klamath Lake with the Mountain Lakes Wilderness in the background. In July we kayaked and camped some more, spent time with friends and family here at home, and enjoyed one more home town Fourth of July in Klamath Falls.  In late July and August, we traveled several thousand miles for a family reunion in Colorado, adding South Dakota to our list of visited states, and took in some amazing scenery in the Black Hills, at the Little Bighorn Battlefield, Devils Tower, and the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, and magnificent Twin Falls in…where?   Twin Falls, Idaho.

2012 5678

SEPTEMBER      OCTOBER      NOVEMBER      DECEMBER

September was a month for being at home, enjoying the best time of year in our own beautiful Klamath Basin.  I harvested goodies from the greenhouse, made jam and froze fruits, enjoyed many visits with friends, quilted and kayaked.  By October, I was ready for the long awaited trip to Eastern Europe with youngest daughter Melody.  We spent two incredible weeks seeing Budapest, Vienna, and Prague, learning about the history, art, and people and actually after 43 years, learning more about each other.  It was precious time.  In November Mo and I spent two fabulous weeks on the Star Princess, enjoying the magic of long days at sea interspersed with a few sunny, beautiful days in the Hawaiian Islands.  Home in December to check out our Grants Pass “cottage”, the new MoHo shed, Christmas decorating and baking, family time, and beautiful deep snows.2012 9101112

On a more personal note, forcing myself to sit down on New Year’s Eve and New Years Day, and extricate the parts of the year past that meant the most to me is a great exercise in remembering, and in appreciation.  I had to go through all the posts, through my personal calendar, through the months and months of photos.  In days past I often wrote lengthy journals on New Years Eve.  Some of them I can find and some I can’t, but the practice has opened my eyes to the blessings of the year and to just how much my life has evolved and changed over the past decades.  Sheesh.  Decades.  Remember when Y2K was such a big deal?  Remember when, back in the 80’s, lots of people were sure the world was going to end in 2012?  That whole Mayan thing wasn’t new, it had been around for a long time.  Yet here we are, all in one piece, and the world is still turning.

As I reviewed the year of going and doing, places visited, trips taken, I realized something that I knew all along.  It is the people in our lives that make it all worthwhile.  New friends and old, friends near and far, and Family.  Capitalized.  Meaning the people in our lives by blood or choice who are our chosen ones that we do life with.  Everything in my life is enriched by everyone that comes into my life in one way or another.  Blogger friends I have never met are somehow part of this extended world and add to its richness.  Facebook, Skype, Google Plus, Blogger, Gmail, Family Tree Builder, Picasa Photos, all these electronic means of keeping closer to the people in our lives may have a bit of a downside, but for me, with my friends and family scattered around the country, the ability to reach out and connect has enriched my life immeasurably.  If you are reading this, you are part of that enrichment.2012 all

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013

 

2010 Part 3

October 2010We returned from our cross country trip on October 1, still in time to see all our own trees slip into their fall finery.  It was a lovely month spent home catching up on chores, winterizing our place for winter and decorating for Halloween.  I made a short trip to Portland to visit with my daughters and grandsons, meeting a friend in town from New York and enjoying all the delights that the city of Portland has to offer.

While driving in to town for my work days, I saw Klamath Lake filled with migrating water birds, herons, egrets, myriad kinds of ducks and geese, with a few white pelicans still hanging around much too long. 

We emptied out the hot tub and readied it for another winter of steamy soaks under the stars, and Mo raked needles and burned debris for days on end, even after our early October snows. After all our camping and traveling, it was wonderful to have a month at home.  I knitted a lot and cooked some really great meals and even settled in to reading a couple of excellent books.  It was a lovely month.

November 2010After some rescheduling excitement, our new Canadian kayaks were delivered just in time for our planned California trip.  We made reservations all down the coast wherever we could find estuaries and rivers to kayak.  The new kayaks are amazing, a full 15 pounds less in weight while adding an extra foot in length from our previous boats. 

 In spite of the rainy weather on the coast, we still managed several perfect days in the boats, and even found some sunshine here and there. As lake kayakers, we were thrilled and sometimes a bit overwhelmed by our adventures into the estuaries, dealing with tides and that wild place where the rivers meet the ocean.

Our perfect two weeks ended with a visit with my lifetime soul friend and her husband in Oroville before we settled the MoHo into her berth in Redding.  This winter for the first time we decided to store the MoHo about 3 hours from home, in a place that doesn’t often freeze and rarely gets snow. 

We got home in time for me to work some more, and then plan a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for my family at home in Rocky Point.  Nature provided the entertainment, with deep snows for the teenagers who loved all the sledding, especially with Mo’s real sled with real runners.

December 2010With the early winter, in early December  Mo and I were plowing and shoveling almost every single day.  As luck would have it, the weather cooperated for Mo while I left for a week to visit my friend in Florida.  She didn’t have to plow a single day while I was gone.  However, the weather didn’t cooperate nearly as well for me, where Florida had record breaking cold, with lows in the 20’s in Ocala.  Still, it was wonderful to have some time with Bel and to again feel that magical feeling that I get around that part of Florida.

We ended the year with a trip to the California deserts, searching for sun and warmth and finding cold weather, rain and floods.  When the sun did finally come out, though, it was gorgeous, and the warm water of the natural spring fed pools at our resort more than made up for the cold weather. 

As this New Years Weekend comes to a close on this Sunday evening, I am amazed at how filled this year has been.  The clichés about time flying so quickly are real, as this first anniversary of my retirement passes by. I did so many things I wanted to do. I managed to bake some seriously fabulous cakes, and tried out new recipes.  I gardened a lot during the spring and summer, and I actually did forget what day of the week it was occasionally. 

Our plans for the year ahead are still nebulous, still open.  I will be taking my daughter on a Caribbean cruise in a couple of weeks, and Mo and I will travel south to the deserts again in February, hoping for sunnier weather than we found last time. We are thinking of going to the RV Rally in Bend this July, but other than that, the world is wide open to us, to whatever adventures appear.  The Wheel of Fortune is turning for me this year, magic happens.  Who knows what will come next?

2010 Part 2

May 2010

Good morning.  The temperatures here have managed to rise to an amazing 18 degrees and the sunshine is bouncing off the snowbanks into my office window.  Beautiful.  I managed to complete my collages last night for the year after much agony about just what to include.  When I take sooo many photos, it’s an amazing exercise to decide just what might work for a summary.  I challenge you to try it. 

Surprisingly, a few have commented about enjoying this format, so what I thought was a purely personal exercise has turned out to be a bit entertaining as well.  The collages will enlarge to original size if you click on them, so be forewarned.  If anything catches your fancy, of course the Picasa website listed on the left side of the blog will take you to my photo albums. On to the next third of the year.

We spent most of early May in California, finalizing the sale of the manufactured home I had lived in while working on the soil survey for Tuolumne and Calaveras county area.  I learned a lot during those years, and met some wonderful people, especially some of the great young men and women who worked with me and for me.  We packed up the last of my belongings into a truck and trailer and traveled home May 14th for the final time. During the time I lived there, I counted nearly 40 trips back up I-5 to Klamath.  Let me tell you, I am a bit tired of that highway! 

Even though I actually retired in January, and had a small get together in Sonora for my “retirement party”, I thought it would be a lot more fun to host a long May weekend retirement/camping party at our home in Rocky Point for friends and family.  I learned what a great group of friends I had, with many people coming from California and Oregon to celebrate with me.  The burning ban held off until May 31, and we had big outdoor campfires every night with lots of good food.  We laughed, talked, ate, went kayaking and many guests spent time touring around the area, with the late spring snow at Crater Lake an especially  big hit. Mo and I actually went out to the MoHo for a bit of a reprieve while we turned the house and guest cabin over to kids and friends. It was a wonderful time, and I so appreciated the friends and family who came to celebrate with me.

June 2010By June, the the flowers were beginning to bloom and the lawns started to green up beautifully.  I love the flowers and flower beds, Mo loves her gorgeous green grass, so she manages the lawns and I do most of the planting and playing with flowers.  We took out a sweet gum that couldn’t handle the late hard spring freezes, and planted a flowering pear that hopefully will. We thrilled at the  growth on all the trees Mo planted when she built this house in 2001. I learned that in order to garden in Rocky Point, I need to adjust for the extremely short season, and to buy some kind of super powerful deer repellant. 

We took a break from all the gardening with a fabulous trip to the Oregon coast for camping and kayaking.  One of the high points of the year for both of us was the magical, rainy day that we slipped into the Little Salmon River and slid quietly past some seals to land on an ephemeral tidal island of sand at the river outlet.  It was one of the special moments of the year that stands out among all others. Later in the month, one of Mo’s army friends visited us from Texas and gave us the opportunity to play travel guide for a lovely trip to the still deep snows of Crater Lake.  We don’t often think to go there unless we are showing guests how lovely and magical it is.

July 2010The collage for July was the most difficult to create, since we had such a fabulous time doing so many different things.  The Princess cruise to Alaska was the highlight. Our tour was just 7 days, traveling as far north as Juneau, and stopping in Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria after a Seattle departure.  It was an amazing experience and only whetted my appetite for more.  Mo traveled the ALCAN back in 1974, in a scout when the roads were still unpaved.  We have a trip to Alaska on the ALCAN on our big lifetime list for the MoHo, but aren’t quite sure just yet when. 

In spite of the grandeur of our cruise, the camping trip to gorgeous and pristine Waldo Lake in the Cascades was another highlight.  We have wanted to camp on that lake for several years and have never managed to get there.  The mosquitoes are legendary, and they didn’t disappoint us. The water was pure and perfect and the kayaking was thrilling.  We had the entire campground almost to ourselves, probably because of the mosquito reputation for that time of year. 

We ended the month with several days camping at Mo’s brother’s place in La Pine for their annual family reunion and gathering.  Mo’s family is big and active, and golfing and kayaking were major activities for the weekend. It was another wonderful time of good food and great conversation and Mo’s brother Roger and his wife Nancy were incredible hosts. I learned that paddling upstream can make for some very funny moments.  We paddled about an hour, passing campers waving in a campground, only to fly past them in about 10 minutes going back down the Deschutes River.  I can’t wait to try out our new kayaks on that river to see if the light weight makes any difference going upstream.

August and September Road Trip

If I thought making the collage for July was hard, that was because I hadn’t yet tried to tackle some kind of summary of our six week cross country trip in August and September.  I took more than 4,000 photos on that trip and learned some very good lessons about photo management and storage.  I also met some folks from the RV blogging community, including Laurie and Odel, who I have followed for years, not realizing at the time that there is a big world out there of RV bloggers.  My participation in this amazing world increased exponentially during this trip.

Mo and I sat in the hot tub on New Year’s eve trying to capture the moments that stood out for us.  It’s nice to try to do that sometime without the photos to trigger memories. Random moments that stand out for me, in no particular order:  Looking a little black bear in the eyes as I paddled a creek in Killarney Provincial Park. Seeing the Colorado Rockies in full aspen glory for the first time. Standing on the Maid of the Mist at the base of Niagara Falls. Watching the wildest waves and wind I have ever seen on Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks.  Walking across the Mississippi at Itasca. Climbing 85 steps of gorgeous canyon at Watson Glen New York. Spewing out the first taste of a box of “dry” red table wine from the Finger Lakes District. Eating perfect walleye on a rainy day in Duluth.  I can’t summarize this trip at all, actually, it’s all back there in the blog.  Thank goodness I wrote about it as it was happening, but then that’s why we blog, right?

Tomorrow I will attempt the final episode of this year in review.  I guess it seems to be the thing to do.  Everywhere I turn on the news, someone is listing the top ten, or the worst ten, or the year in  review, or some such thing.  My favorite list among those out there is the one that talks about what has become obsolete in this last decade.  That one really makes me wonder how things will change in the next one.  Mo and I figure we should have ten good years of travel ahead of us before we need to slow down a bit.  In reality, any day could be our last, so my goal and my learning this year is to stay in the moment and appreciate every single tiny one.