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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018: The Rearview

I was paging through our pictures from 2018 and realized it can be summed up nicely with a pictorial essay. Here's the year in a nutshell:


Mark stands forlornly at the locked gate at Pt. Reyes National Park Lighthouse stairs. Notice all the other unsuspecting tourists gobbed up on the platform behind him. 

It started with a government shutdown. Sound familiar anyone? We went out to Point Reyes National Park on our annual trip to the lighthouse and when we arrived found the gate padlocked shut. Due to the government shutdown at midnight that very night, all national parks had been closed. It was a gorgeous day out there though, and we made the best of it by picnicking on the beach and watching the surfers dodge the elephant seals.


A Green Sea Turtle cruises by and gives u a chin nod.

A fabulous trip to Maui had us snorkeling every day with sea turtles, sharks and whales and ended with a new ambition/obsession for Mark: become a helicopter pilot. 


We took pity on the new owner and cleaned it inside and out. We were a little worried that the dog hair was the only thing holding it together.

A fond farewell to a partner that had been with us for over 28 years. Our Honda Civic had been our car since before we were married and taken us on many adventures. It was a sad day, and I still miss having a vehicle I can park next to the grocery cart corral without a care.


April brought an abundance of sweet peas.

A bumper crop of flowers in the garden signified spring's arrival. We finally had a normal rain year and the flowers were deeply appreciative.


Turns out the road to Tibbets Arch, our first campsite before descending onto the White Rim Trail, was much more difficult than any of the actual White Rim road. We lost our trailer hitch electrical assembly and some of the paint on our back bumper to a sharp drop off on the way out.
Our annual trip to Overland Expo was a launching point for another Utah adventure with friends. The White Rim Trail was even better done in three days, and a lot less scary for me the second time around. 


Ginger, snickerdoodles and chocolate chip were just a few of the flavors coming out of the oven in June.

Ah, June. Do I hear wedding bells? Turns out the latest trend in weddings is to have cookies instead of (or in addition to) cake. Two of my co-workers asked if I would make cookies for their weddings, and who was I to say no? After countless test batches, sampling flavors and measuring yield per batch, it was the big day. An industry was born and I was unable to even look at butter for weeks afterward.


Gold Lake in Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The smoke shut us out of Yosemite, and kept us from doing a planned hike to the Sierra Buttes. Maybe next year...

If 2018 had a signature smell, it would be smoke. Wildfires raging in Yosemite closed the park the day before we were to leave on our annual camping trip there, so we improvised by going north to Plumas-Eureka State Park. It was a lovely time, perfect weather but for all the smoke in the air. We thought it was coming from the Yosemite fire, but while we were happily, obliviously out of cell phone range, Lake County was going up in flames in what turned out to be the largest wildfire in state history. It didn't matter which way the wind blew, the smoke was settling over us regardless.


It was time. Since the beginning of the drought in 2013, the lawn in our front yard had steadily turned from grass to an interesting assemblage of "native" plants. Dandelions, privet, oxalis, and of course crabgrass had taken over our entire yard, embarrassing us and annoying our neighbors. We decided to reduce the lawn footprint and plant drought resistant borders, but first had to move all of our irrigation lines and sprinkler heads. Somehow when we put the lawn in twenty years ago this type of work was much easier. Every night we went to bed and listened to our joints moan in pain. Getting old sucks.


A drive up the coast of Oregon capped off our camping season. It was a spectacular trip, one for the books, with perfect weather, uncrowded campgrounds and cheese. Lots of cheese.


Sans-camper, our truck doesn't look all that big. Still hell to park in a busy lot though.
For our anniversary, we decided to rent a cabin in Tahoe before it got too cold. Autumn in Tahoe is  probably my favorite season–still sunny days, chilly nights and best of all, hardly any people. We had a great time walking the dogs in the forest, visiting the ice cream shop every afternoon and soaking in the hot tub under the stars at night. Although we weren't camping, we made a run up to our favorite camp spot in the mountains just to say hello. The trees were brilliant yellow but the air was nippy. I was glad we had a cabin to go home to every night.


This pic is actually from September, but this represents about all that happened in November.
Let's see. The Camp Fire wiped out Paradise and sent a plume of smoke over Sonoma County for days. In only a year and a month, that fire wiped out Santa Rosa's previous record number of lives and dwellings lost. We were forced to stay indoors for two weeks because of the alarmingly unhealthy air quality, but felt guilty complaining knowing what the poor people of Paradise were going through. We missed out on a Thanksgiving trip with our buddies to El Camino del Diablo because we planned to spend the holidays with our families, but we both got the flu right before Thanksgiving and were unable to enjoy our favorite meal of the year. It was cold, it was rainy, and there was no camping or adventuring happening. Not a great month.


Ice plant, as far as the eye can see.
Sonoma Coast State Park
Once we started feeling better, we started to enjoy the season a bit. Miracles started to occur, such as finishing Christmas shopping with two weeks to spare, and rain that happened during the week leaving the sun for the weekends to enjoy. We took a trip out to the coast just before Christmas and found ourselves almost alone, on a wind-free, sunny gorgeous day. How could we not stop for fish and chips? The year was ending on a high note and we expect next year to follow suit. 

To all of you, here's to a safe, happy and adventurous 2019!

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