It’s that time of year again. The old calendar is in the trash and the new one is hanging on the wall. I’m not sure why putting up that new calendar made me smile. 2016 was actually a pretty good year for me and I was in no hurry to bring on any change.
But as I gaze at the semi-glossy calendar sporting a beautiful landscape photo, I note the lack of scribble on any of the dated boxes …. a clean slate. Oh, the possibilities!
You know that feeling you get after cleaning out a closet? (Well at least the feeling I get) Not only do I feel a sense of accomplishment, there’s a feeling of being refreshed, out with the old, in with the new. It’s a positive feeling that brings a smile to my face. I kind of got that same feeling when I threw out the old calendar and replaced it with a new one.
Al and I have just recently started talking about our travel plans for 2017. I know, kind of late for us considering the new year is upon us already. Quite frankly, I’m still relishing in the memories from some of last years excursions.
Today I’m sitting in Rockport, Texas, back in the very same spot I was in a year ago. As I type, I’ll occasionally gaze out an RV window admiring the unique and resilient oak trees. I contemplate the twists and turns of the tree trunks while listening to the pleasant chirping of cardinals.
Last years travel plans started out relatively organized and well laid out, but as the year unfolded, we encountered unexpected twists and turns. And just like I may not understand why those mighty oak trees grow in a hither and yon manor, I don’t fully comprehend how our well organized travel plans went astray in a similar hither and yon way.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter because the year turned out to be one heck of a fun ride. Sure, there were a few negatives thrown in here and there, but that’s life, isn’t it!
A few memorable experiences of 2016 ….. After our regular January stint of birding along the Texas Gulf Coast, we returned to Phoenix, Arizona for a little desert dwelling and hanging with the kids. In April we moved on down to Yuma, Arizona for a short stay to tend to some business which included having the RV and truck washed and hand waxed all for $150. In Phoenix, we paid $400 for the same type of work. That was a memorable price difference, wouldn’t you agree? I foresee regular visits to Yuma in our future 😉
Then it was time for a day trip across the border to Los Algodones, Mexico for dental work. I was a little apprehensive about this at first, and reached out to a few of my full-time RVing friends for recommendations. In the end, I had two crowns and a filling done for a total cost of $750 and thus far no complaints. Normally, I wouldn’t include dental work as a highlight or memorable event, but eating without discomfort allowed me to enjoy our travels the rest of the year that much more. Plus, it was a new and interesting experience that was all positive.
Also in April, I had my mind blown away by some of the most perplexing and boggling scenery in southern Utah. I’ve always loved visiting Utah, but the fascinating hoodoos that make up Bryce Canyon National Park had eluded me until that day. Trust me when I say, pictures do not do the park justice. It’s one of those places you really do need to see in person. Bryce Canyon National Park was definitely a highlight of my year and goes toward the top of the list.
Then there was our two month work camping gig in Idaho. I had a great time, Al not so much. I found myself doing things I never thought I could. I spent my time working in the RV Park restaurant and office. I waitressed, I cooked, and I checked campers in and sometimes I was the only one available to do all three. Oh yeah, I was hopping and as much as I impressed myself with my abilities, I was glad the job was temporary. You know what, that was the best thing about it – the job was temporary and I wasn’t in charge.
After running my own business for years, it was wonderful for me to say, “Let me get the owner. I just work here”.
Overall, it was an enlightening experience on many levels. Would I work camp again? I’m not sure. It boils down to risk/reward and every scenario is different. If I had permanently injured myself on the commercial grill, which was hubby’s constant concern, it sure wouldn’t have been worth it. While building picnic tables, Al ended up tweaking an old back injury, which took a while to realign and hampered his fun most of the summer. Risk vs. reward, definitely something to consider when contemplating work camping.
After years of dreaming, I finally made it to the Grand Tetons … not once, but twice. The first time was in early June and the second time was mid July.
I loved all the spring blooms in early June. Grand Teton National Park did not disappoint and remains a place I hope to revisit time and again.
At the end of July, we returned to our former home town of Pueblo West, Colorado. I like to return once a year to hug my stuff in storage. I’m just not at a point where I’m ready to let go of everything and give up the storage units (yes, plural 🤔). I retrieved some stuff and left other stuff behind. As I looked into the storage units, my thoughts were mixed. Some things I’m glad I’ve kept and others make me wonder whatever was I thinking. We really do need to think about consolidating and purging. But not today! I know it’s only stuff, but I like my stuff and I like embracing it once a year. Hug, hug, kiss, kiss moving on ….
We had the opportunity to see Al’s sister’s new condo in the Denver area. In the spring of ’16 she moved from northern Illinois to Denver, Colorado and hasn’t looked back. She’s loving every minute of her new home state. It was also very convenient for us to spend the night with her so Al could drop me off at the airport for my early morning flight from Denver to Chicago.
During our stay in Denver, the RV was comfortably parked at the Lake Pueblo State Park, a two hour drive south of Denver.
My visit with my 89 year old dad was very special as I escorted him to his grandson’s wedding (my nephew). Dad beamed as he watched the first of five grandchildren get married. The wedding was beautiful and the day was absolutely perfect.
Initially, I wasn’t exactly excited about returning to Illinois, but little did I realize, I was in for a special treat ……
I flew back to Chicago on a Wednesday. The Monday before, I received an interesting email. Turns out my bestfriend from junior high and high school was trying to track me down. We’d lost touch twenty-eight years ago and after several failed attempts she finally succeeded in finding my correct address. Talk about timing. That Thursday we enjoyed a four hour lunch filled with non stop talking. After all, we had a lot of catching up to do. How fun was that! Now we stay in touch via Facebook.
The day dad and I did a little yard work together was laughable. It was literally a frick and frack moment. Words like hootchie and jigma jig were used in regards to starting the lawn mowers. At 89 Dad’s brain is as sharp as a tack but he occasionally has trouble finding the right words and as far as I’m concerned, you can call it a primer, a gas thingy, or a jigma jig … I didn’t care. I just wanted to get the things started.
And once we had both the rider and push mowers started, the necessary sign language used to communicate with one another over the loud engine noise was incomprehensible to each other. I guess I don’t need to tell you which one of us used the pusher 😎 Yep, a lot of laughing took place that day and the yard work eventually got done. Without a doubt, it was a wonderful and memorable trip.
But I encountered the highlight of my year in mid August near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m convinced travel is all about timing. Ever read someone’s blog post where they gush about a place and then when you visit you just don’t get it? Sure, it might be a nice place, but not over the top ‘oh my gosh gotta visit’ worthy. I firmly believe it’s all about what’s going on in one’s personal life that makes a place resonate with ones soul.
Another year, another time and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument may not have touched me in the same way it did. Guess it was just what I needed at the time. As much as I was enjoying the summer, it was filled with many stressful moments. Unexpected twists and turns can be a ton of fun, but they can also be a trigger for stress.
So you could say, by this point in our travels, I needed to recharge. Santa Fe and Kasha-Katuwe were my salvation, just what the doctor ordered, and remains my all time favorite moment of the year. I’m sure it was all about the timing for me.
How about politics? Although I wasn’t exactly stressed by the political climate, the commercials and news stories became an irritating annoyance. But it did make for one heck of an entertaining and memorable year in America!
Although the rest of 2016 brought about some fun adventures worth writing about, I’ll leave those tales for another post.
In the meantime, keep in mind, life may take a bunch of unexpected twists and turns and we may not always understand why, but remember, we are a resilient thriving bunch just like those mighty oak trees.
I send you warm wishes for a wonderful New Year. Let’s start filling in our calendars with intriguing travel adventures … cheers!