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Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013: A Year in Review

 The year is coming to a close and as is our tradition around here I ask: 
Where the heck did it go?

To remind myself, I've been flipping through our photos from the past year. The nice thing about digital photography is having the time and date stamps that accompany them; we don't have to pick up a photo and turn it over to discover we (yet again) forgot to mark it, wondering aloud "when was this again?" Some of my favorites aren't necessarily the most artistic or well composed shots, but the ones that bring back the best memories.

Here are a few along with the stories behind them:

We started the year with our annual trip out to Point Reyes National Seashore. Our first date was a trip to the lighthouse there, and every year we make the trek down all 300 stairs to watch for whales off the western-most point in the contiguous US. We got lucky this year with marvelous weather and some whales that were in the mood to be photographed. It was a great trip, beautiful blue skies and clear air cooperated to mark the 25th anniversary of our first date.

Down the 300 stairs leading to the Point Reyes lighthouse.

Red lichen decorates the signal house at the base of the cliff.
Gray whales on their annual migration to Mexico.
Waves roll in on North Beach, Pt. Reyes National Seashore

We spent a lot of time out at the family vacation house in Bodega Bay this year. It's the best place to go when you want to take some time off but don't have the time or money to go far. There's no cable or internet (for a while there was no cell service), so there is no excuse not to relax and have fun. We like to hang out and read magazines and, of course, practice photography. Here are a few shots from over the last year:

Salmon Creek, Sonoma Coast
Rosette succulent in the sand
Snail shell on the sand dune in black & white
Naked Lady against an old fence, Bodega Bay
Waves on the Sonoma Coast

April brought the most traumatic experience of the year. Our dog Tiga spied a cat through a crack in the fence in the backyard, got overly excited and smashed through a loose board. Off like a shot after the cat, she raced through our neighbor's yard with me on her tail, then decided she'd really rather not go back home. I chased her through the neighborhood for blocks, almost catching up to her several times just to have her lunge away as soon as I was within collar grabbing distance. Having more stamina than I, she raced around to one of the busiest streets in the city, rounding the corner and disappearing from view before I could catch up. At some point in those few seconds she must have run into the street and gotten hit by a car. When I rounded the corner she was limping and bleeding on the sidewalk, one of her hind legs hanging off at a weird angle. It was then that she finally decided to obey me as I yelled "Wait! WAIT!" (which is our command to stop.)  She did allow me to carry her home and from there, take her straight to the emergency vet. A four day hospital stay and over $3000 later she was home and on the mend, a dislocated hip surgically repaired with artificial ligaments to hold it in place. The lucky bugger didn't have any internal injuries aside from the dislocation, just scrapes on her legs. She has now topped out as the most expensive mutt we have owned to date. She was up and running on three legs within the week, against doctor's orders.

Stupid dog...
(She has since fully recovered, with some minor stiffness on cold mornings.)
Happiness for us is finding a new place to explore, and May was chock full of new places. Our annual Overland Expo trip started out in the Mojave National Preserve at Hole in the Wall campground. We must have passed right by the place twenty times before finally choosing to stop this year. What a spot! The perfect first night of the camping season; great trails, empty campground, beautiful weather. Decompressing from the winter/spring rainy season has never been better:

Along the cliff sides on the Rings Trail

Mark looking through one of the many holes in the wall.
One of my favorite photos of the trip. After a cold, wet winter and spring Mark is finally able to relax,
beer and snacks in hand in front of his custom built adventure vehicle. 
The sun sets on the Mojave Desert Preserve.

Not that it was a surprise, but Mesa Verde and Sand Dunes National Parks in Colorado were a few of the highlights of our May trip. The cliff dwellings were spectacular, and the quiet grandeur of the sand and surrounding mountains of Great Sand Dunes were enough to make us want to return every year. We had a great time touring the cliff dwellings and were pleasantly surprised at how uncrowded all the parks were at that time of year.

Spectacular sculpture in front of the Visitor's Center
at Mesa Verde National Park

Gambel Oaks in Morefield Campground, Mesa Verde NP

Inside a Kiva at Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde NP

We must have spent an hour staring at the creek along the base of the sand dunes, mesmerized by the ebb and flow through the fine sand in Sand Dunes National Park.
While we were dreading the long drive across the plains to get to Omaha, it turned out to be a wonderful place to visit. The Midwest sometimes gets a bad rap from the rest of the country; I've heard it referred to as white-bread, boring and flat. While it is a bit more homogenous than the Bay Area, and it's certainly not mountainous, it has a beauty all it's own. We had a great time visiting with our friends and getting to know the middle part of the country a little better. I really enjoyed the long vistas and never ending fields of corn and soybeans--we have those in the central valley of California, but not quite to that scale. And the Omaha Zoo was a big surprise; what a great place to visit!

We knew we were on the Great Plains when we saw this giant plow.

Turtles line up for a place in the sun, Missouri River

Who knew? Jellyfish in Nebraska at the Omaha Zoo.
A chimpanzee rests on the viewing window at the Omaha Zoo
A panorama of the fields surrounding Blair Nebraska

Summer wouldn't be summer without our annual trip to Yosemite National Park. Just as there's no bad time to be there, there are no bad pictures from that magical place. We've been there at all times of the year, in all sorts of weather, and we will never get tired of it. Here's a few of this year's shots:

Wallpaper in the Ahwahnee Hotel
Yellow flowers growing alongside the Merced River
Mirror Lake

Fall came around quickly this year and we decided to get away to the mountains one more time before the snow started. A trip to Tahoe capped the end of the camping season for us and the mountains didn't disappoint. We had a great time roaming the shores of Tahoe with the dogs.

Rocky beach along the shores of Lake Tahoe
A dog's perspective

A sign outside an exhibit cabin at Tallac Historic Park

With the camper tucked away for the winter, we're in planning mode now for the year ahead. 2014 is just a few days away and before you know it I'll be asking Mark: Where the heck did it go?

Happy New Year from the Running From Moose Team:

The Troublemaker
Mark and Kelly

The Good One

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