A look back at my 2021.

A year ago, it was anyone’s guess how 2021 would roll out after the cluster that was the year 2020. Today I paused to reflect on a few of the memories I captured from the last twelve months.

January – I started to direct my energy towards making things and sewing. I asked Monte to make me a rack for my growing collection of spools of thread. It turned out perfect, as usual, and has been well used by me over the last 12 months.

February – The deep freeze descended upon Texas. We were incredibly lucky to not have lost power during the prolonged freeze. So many people were really hurting during the weeklong outages. I can’t deny that I loved the temporary snowscape around the house. But I was happy to see it go.

March – The power across the state eventually came back on. The weather warmed up. Things started to bloom. The leaves fell and were raked up. I think we set a record for leaf bags set out on the curb. The City of Austin yard waste collection crew even took a picture of our curbside menagerie.

April – Incredibly, a year after this shit-storm started, COVID vaccines were available to the masses, and we got in line. For both of us, the reactions were pretty mild. The worst thing I can report is a temperature of 100 degrees F.

May – I flew to Charleston to help Lori take Trident north to Annapolis. We had some great days and nights on the water, including several legs on the outside. Sadly, my precious little Keeto died while I was away. Nearly 10 years old, it was still too soon. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for my sweet baby bird. And I’m sorry Monte had to go through it alone. It still brings a tear to my eye. He was just the best bird ever.

June – Nirvana received lots of TLC. A prolonged bottom job. New batteries. Scheduled maintenance undertaken by me and Monte. Inverter replacement. Cushion repairs. Some new running rigging. And many hours with friends and family spent on her this year.

July – We had fun family visits this month; the first since the pandemic descended. And, as we do every year, we took a boatload out on Lake Travis to watch the July 4th fireworks.

August – Monte and I continued enjoying Nirvana and the lake throughout the summer. One week, we spent several days sailing 30 miles upstream, anchoring up around mile marker 44. Our goal was to watch the Perseids meteor shower. We did see some meteors. It was just nice to be out and about on the boat so much this summer.

September – We crewed for Kurt & Kevin for the Austin Yacht Club Fall Series Regatta on Camelot. We helped them nab 2nd place for their class in the end. Huzzah!!

October – I flew up to Baltimore to join Lori on Trident for the Annapolis Sailboat Show, my first. This was more of a for-fun trip than a move-the-boat trip, and I really enjoyed the two day trip we took sailing to St. Michaels and back across Chesapeake Bay. After the boat show, we drove back together to Austin, stopping at 4 US National Parks along the way. Amazing!

November – We enjoyed more time out and about this fall. Monte took me curling for my birthday. We both had loads of fun. And I think we’ll do it again!

December – Wow, the year flew by. Again. We took another boatload out for the Christmas boat parade. Unfortunately, COVID fears are starting to seep back into our lives. But I really hope that by this time next year there are many more fun outings and visits under my belt. I just can’t take another lockdown.

Time flies. We are immensely blessed. It’s easy to complain about the events swirling around us, but I’m focused on celebrating the small day-to-day good times that we spend together and with friends and family.

I wish you all an amazing, healthy, and happy 2022.

Goals.

I’m not a bucket list person. But I am motivated by a challenge. And I love the outdoors. I’ve only recently sort of slid into this “see as many National Parks as I can” thing. But now it’s a thing I’d like to do. Before this week, I visited 10 of the current 63 U.S. National Parks in the National Park Service. As of today, my total is up to 14. 49 to go. And, they add new parks every year or two, so I need to step up my game.

Lori has a National Park Geek sticker on her car’s roof-top carrier. So, of course, I wanted one. I got the pin 🙂

I now am starting work on an itinerary, and on Monte to join me, for a long road trip to see several of the National Parks out west. Stay tuned.

Goals.

I found a poster on-line featuring scratch-off tiles for each of the 62 U.S. National Parks.   When you’ve visited one of the parks, you scratch off the gray-tone image for it to reveal a more colorful image beneath.   After framing the poster, I counted the parks I’ve already visited and was surprised that I have logged 10 already – without even trying!  I don’t really have a bucket list, but I certainly would love to see more of these national parks, especially those throughout the western part of the country.  Road trip!?

I bought it here, if you want to check it out for yourself.  Thanks to Monte for the handsome frame.  🙂

The Hub City.

My friend, Irene, called me up over the weekend to ask me to meet her in Lubbock today. Her son is competing in a track meet and she’s flying in to watch him. I said yes. It’s about 350 miles northwest of Austin. So I hit the road this morning. Here’s some of the sights I took in today.

At some point I was surrounded by giant wind turbines as far as the eye could see. This picture captures the old with the new, all planted in the middle of a freshly harvested cotton field.

There are prairie dogs everywhere in Lubbock! (And meadowlarks, too)

It turns out one of the best places to go birding in Lubbock is the cemetery. So I had to check it out. And sure enough, I saw many. Buddy Holley was from Lubbock, and is buried here. I stopped by to pay my respects.

Remembering the Alamo.

We have out-of-town family visiting us this week, and today we headed to San Antonio.  It has been a long time since my last visit to the Alamo.  So, it was nice to visit again to get a Texas history refresher.

The rain finally let up, the sky cleared and the sun came out, making for a nice afternoon.

The Alamo is hallowed ground, given the loss of life there in 1836 of those trying to defend a foothold in the battle for Texas independence.  A plaque on the door reads:

“BE SILENT, FRIEND.  HERE HEROES DIED TO BLAZE A TRAIL FOR OTHER MEN.”

If you are patient, you might be able to get a picture of the front of the chapel without people milling about.

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Knocked one off the bucket list.

Over the weekend I took a roadtrip with 4 girlfriends to Big Bend National Park in far southwest Texas.   I’ve lived in Texas over 20 years and have never made it out there.   And it was long overdue.   It is all that they say it is.   Big, beautiful, rugged, inspiring, with mountain, desert and river views to die for.

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We made it!

Six and a half hours by car from Austin, we made it to Ft. Davis by about 7pm Friday night.  We had reservations to attend one of the evening Star Parties held 3 times a week at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory, and made it with a little time to spare.   The skies were dark and the stars were out.   The Milky Way was amazing.   The stars and constellations visible to the naked eye were too many to count.  Through the telescopes they had placed for visitors, I saw Saturn, the Andromeda Galaxy, M11 star cluster, and the 2 star clusters in the Perseus constellation.   If you’re going to make the trip all the way out to Big Bend, you really should combine it with a trip to the observatory.   Get tickets ahead of time online.   They sell out frequently and have to turn people away.

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McDonald Observatory giant telescopes on the hill – viewed from where we stayed outside of Fort Davis

Saturday morning we drove to Big Bend and hiked inside of Big Bend National Park.   Saturday afternoon we did the Window Trail – to experience the Chisos Mountains part of Big Bend.   Four hours round trip, a moderately challenging hike, with breathtaking scenery all along the way.

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The Window in the Chisos Mountains from the beginning of the Window Trail.

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The Window view at the pour-off at the end of the trail. Watch your step!

We started Sunday at Santa Elena Canyon at dawn – to experience the Rio Grand river part of Big Bend.  It was about an easy 2 hour hike roundtrip – though we had to bushwack a bit to get onto the trail.  The Rio Grande has sliced a 1500′ deep canyon through the mountain there.  At sunrise, the face of the sheer mountain walls glow in the brightening sunlight.

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The Santa Elena Canyon trail, looking northeast with the sun rising over the Rio Grande.

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About a mile and a half into the Santa Elena Canyon trail along the Rio Grande.

Sunday afternoon we hiked the Mule Ears Springs trail – to experience the Chihuahuan Desert part of Big Bend.   A 3 hour hike, moderate difficulty, mainly due to the rough terrain and 90+ degree temperatures.  Packing water with you is a must!

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Mule Ears, in the distance on the left, from the Mule Ears Springs trail.

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From the Mule Ears Springs trail, looking back south to Santa Elena Canyon in the distance.

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Chihuahuan Desert scape, looking north to the mountains from the south side of the park.

Another very awesome trip.  We hiked our butts off.

Gulf or bust.

I’m taking a vacation day today so that we can make a long weekend of it and take a road trip.   We headed south to the coast.

We stopped in Lockhart for lunch, skipping the amazing barbeque on this trip and ate at a lovely cafe on the town square called T&C Cafe – delicious sandwiches – right across the street from the Caldwell County courthouse:

IMG_9268Down past Refugio we spied miles and miles of windmills.IMG_9275

We took the ferry from Aransas Pass to Port A and have been enjoying the waterfront ever since.IMG_9283

It’s kind of rare to find a place to watch the sun set over the water … in Texas.  But our vantage spot from Port A looking west over the ship canal towards Corpus Christi afforded that kind of view.

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