Decorating a Christmas tree harvested from the National Forest is an annual tradition we both enjoy. The small collection of photographs (Get out the magnifying glass) on our card represents a slice of this past year’s activities and lifestyle. This year we’re focused on health and happiness. For us, this means eating less red meat (actually, eating less of anything) and moving more … it’s our new lifestyle. The photo of the old gate fence at Bicknell Bottoms is our weekly brunch stop. We pull off the road, park the truck and split a sandwich from a local takeout. Birds cruise across the wetlands, cattle and sheep graze in the pasture land, and life slows down for a few minutes.
At the beginning of 2021, Annette was recovering from a broken leg, messed up ankle, and the resulting weight gain. We took lots of winter drives through the mostly empty Capitol Reef and Boulder Mountain campgrounds. Annette learned to walk again on the flat, smooth asphalt streets and paths… gradually gaining strength and mobility. Within a few weeks, Annette was navigating inclines as we moved from flat surface roads to short climbs and descents. We used the term ‘wash walks’ for hikes not done on established trails, but we stuck to drainages where we were not disturbing soil crusts. By March, we were able to ‘road trip’ and camp a few nights. We revisited the nearby ‘Lamp Stand’ ruins and explored the Wolverine loop and its petrified forest and deep, narrow canyons.
By Spring, Annette was back to walking normally and hiking was part of our healthy living program. By summer, we were all vaxed up and later boostered too. We’ve gotten accustomed to fewer social activities, while enjoying time at home and with nature.
We traveled to Austin, TX and on to the Midwest. Annette attended her final face-to-face school meeting and enjoyed an early retirement lunch before her upcoming May 2022 retirement. She has been teaching online since the mid-1990s and full-time with Indiana University since 2002. She developed and taught about two dozen online courses. She loves it, but is ready to be done.
Summer included a visit by the Rathsack family and late summer trips around nearby Boulder and Fishlake Mountains. Getting outside and exploring nature with our cameras, we captured wildflowers in bloom, amazing rock formations, fall colors, and local wildlife. We enjoyed cool weather camping near Mount Charleston in Spring Mountains National Recreation Area and took in a football game (Iowa State Vs. UNLV) at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Strange weather has become the norm. This year, we had summer monsoon rains that ended too early. Snow in mid-October was followed by an unseasonably warm November.
Annette has been “practicing” for retirement by organizing and building with LEGOs. She even took an online Natural History Illustration class in anticipation of more time spent sketching, drawing, and painting. Larry has been busy in the workshop decorating the porch with license plates and other fun signs and is getting back into refurbishing ladder back chairs. Did you know that Arizona made their license plates of solid copper for a few years? Larry owns a few of them from the early Thirties. They don’t rust. During the second year of Covid, we have kept Amazon busy bringing us art supplies, signs, and of course, toilet paper.
This fall, Annette turned in her last NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) grant reports and has been co-teaching with faculty that will be taking over her classes next year. We continue to volunteer with Entrada institute and recently took photos of the annual Arts and the Park events. We hike at least once or twice a week. Recently, we’ve been exploring the canyon basin of Fishcreek Cove. Most locals are familiar with the headless elk figures (Pictographs) and some know about the nearby small waterfall. With mild November and December temperatures, we have been hiking the nearby public lands around this natural bowl. The ground is largely blow sand and sandstone rock formations with stands of Ponderosa pine along with mountain mahogany and sagebrush. We seldom see people or even a human footprints. In 2022, we look forward to continuing our focus on hiking, along with health and happiness. We hope you’ll join us… or at least check out the photos we post on Facebook.
Annette and Larry, December 2021
PS… Annette enjoys the Happy Color iPad app. It’s a great way to relax. She “digital colored” this one (Above) for Christmas 2021.