About this time last year I set myself a challenge to post to my blog at least once a week for at least a year. And I did it, as the last 52 posts will illustrate. I set myself this goal because I like writing, I like sharing my thoughts, and I spend way too much time in my head. I thought it would be good for me to get some of it out and share it.
Also around this time last year, I started this page with a recap of 2013, so I thought I would do the same thing for 2014 to close out my challenge. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop blogging, in fact I intend to keep to my once a week schedule. I’ve found that I really enjoy doing this, it can be quite cathartic, if sometimes frustrating. Each month has a recap like 2013, but I’m also going to share my favorite quote from the month, my best blog post, and a photo.
When 2014 began Les and I were living in Coos Bay, Oregon. Les was working as the Digital Editor at the paper, I was working Baycrest. Both of us were working more than we probably should have, but we did find time for a few adventures. We didn’t go very far from home in January, but luckily in Oregon you don’t have to go far to see some really amazing sites. We visited the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Eel Lake at William M. Tugman State Park, New River, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, and the Umpqua River Lighthouse.
I go to work without a jacket because it’s 60 degrees and sunny and my body doesn’t know what month it is!
In January my best blog post was one I wrote about baby name websites, I think people clicked on it because I shared the link on Facebook and used the word “baby” without the word “eewwww,” which is a rarity (for a reason: babies are gross).
In February I took a trip to Missouri to see my Aunt Kathy, who was not doing well. My trip happened to coincide with my grandmother’s 88th birthday. I don’t know how I feel about calling it a good trip, it’s one I wish I didn’t have to make, but I am glad I did it. I’m glad I got to see some of my family, that I had a chance to spend a special day with Grandma, and that I had a chance to say goodbye to Kathy.
Made it to Denver without having to make small talk with any random strangers. I consider this a fantastic success.
My favorite post was the one I shared that was inspired by that most famous Robert Frost poem.
As Spring sprung in Oregon, Les and I got back into our exploring routine, one day we were driving and we saw a sign that said “Falls 26 Miles” so we forgot about all our plans and set out to find the falls. For Les’s birthday we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. A few times we just got in the car and drove, and they were beautiful drives. We saw more of the Oregon Dunes and spent some time at Cape Perpetua, both gorgeous places. We also used our Oregon Coast Passport to get full use out of the state park closest to our house, Shore Acres.
I’m getting sand in my pants.
I think my favorite post from March was when I wrote about going places and having experiences instead of buying things.
The fourth month was not an easy one in 2014, Kathy died on the 6th, and Les and I both went to Missouri for the memorial. And, as always when something terrible happens and it seems like your world should just stop, life keeps going anyway. The day before we left for Missouri, and as soon as we got back, I had to serve jury duty in the booming metropolis of Coquille. Later in the month we spend a day in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, it was nice because it was pretty and quiet and almost entirely lacking in other people. By the end of the month the weather was in the 90s and we spent more time on the beach.
Me: Shake your hair like a super model.
Les: I’m dizzy.
The third week in April is the only week of 2014 that I didn’t post to this site, between the traveling and all the work that went into the memorial and the photos for it, the days just got away from me. I did make that post up, it was only 2 days late. But my best post from April is probably one of the best posts I did the entire year. It was based off a conversation I had with a resident at work about going back and talking to her younger self.
Come May we were both still working too much (I was frequently working 12 on 2 off, trading with my boss who was doing the same) and we had to make time to relax. We stayed pretty close to home, but luckily there were a lot of beaches pretty close to home and in May we did our first (and probably only, at least for quite a while) beach fire. We drank beers and ate s’mores and had the entirety of Whiskey Run Beach to ourselves. It wasn’t until Memorial Day weekend that we hit the road. We took a trip to Bend and enjoyed drinking our Dutch Bros. and driving our Subaru, being true Oregonians. On the way back to Coos Bay we took the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway and got some really cool photos of Oregon mountains (which are all obviously volcanoes and really look like they could explode and kill everyone and any moment). The other really cool thing that happened in May was the next weekend. After work one day Les and I made our way to Agness, Oregon and then took unpaved Forest Service roads to get home. Just before it got dark we saw a bear cross the road and run into the woods, it was too quick to get photos, but it was awesome. I love bears!
Me: Put this in the “get rid of box.”
Les: But I still have this! (regarding an 18-year-old calculator accessories catalog THAT STILL HAD THE FREAKING PLASTIC ON IT!)
I was so busy working in May that most of my posts were short on text and heavy on photos. There are some good photos in those posts, but I also wrote my first list post, and I had a lot of fun with it.
In June I decided to make it my mission to photograph all of the lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. I already had photos of several of them and we took the dogs on a weekend trip up the coast as far as Ecola State Park so I could get the rest. Later in the month friends of ours invited us to their timeshare near Bend. We went biking (I was actually talked into riding a tandem bike with Les) and hiking with them and then took the scenic route home over McKenzie Pass, which has some incredible views. Between trips we did some exploring around Coos County and found some really pretty waterfalls.
There’s a slug orgy going on down there!
I wrote two really good posts in June. One about the lighthouses, which is informative and has lots of photos, and the other about why I don’t hold babies. If I had to pick a favorite for the month though, I’d probably go with the baby one, it’s written better.
By the time summer was in full swing Les was getting really frustrated at his job and had started looking for another one. We had only been in Oregon for a year, but we knew we would probably be leaving soon, so we set out to have as many Oregon experiences as possible. We hunted down some really cool waterfalls and beaches, took a tour of Cape Blanco Lighthouse, hiked to the top of Mary’s Peak, and saw lots of native wildlife. In July Les asked me how I would feel about him applying for a job in Alaska. We talked about it quite a bit and he eventually applied for it and was offered a job in Kenai. It didn’t work out because the company just wasn’t offering us enough money to live in Alaska.
Me: If we move to Alaska I could cuddle with a bear.
Les: You can’t cuddle with a bear, it would scratch your eyes out!
Me: Since when do you care so much about my eyeballs? If we move there I’m cuddling a bear and that’s all there is to it.
Les: It’ll eat your face!
Me: So? It’s my face I can do what I want with it.
Les and I have learned over the years that if we announce something that isn’t a sure thing like, “We might be moving to Alaska,” it ends poorly, usually with the same question over and over and over again from people who don’t listen to the answer. So we didn’t plan on telling anyone until we knew for sure that we would be going or not. But it was on our minds so much that I decided to write about it in a roundabout way. Vaguebooking has always annoyed the crap out of me, so I thought I would point out how stupid it was and wrote a very non-specific post about our thoughts on moving to Alaska. It was my highest rated post of all time and inspired several comments on my Facebook about how I would make a good mom (which is just wrong and not true).
In early August we knew for sure that we wouldn’t be moving to Alaska but Les was still looking for another job and we knew we’d probably be leaving Oregon. So we doubled down on our Oregon bucket list. We spent a day in Portland and saw Multnomah Falls. I told Les when we moved to Oregon that we would have to go to Crater Lake before we left, so we decided to do it for my birthday. Because dogs aren’t permitted on many of the trails, and because it was only about 4 hours from our house, we decided to go two weekends in a row. We went the first time before my birthday and checked out the things we couldn’t take the dogs to, like the visitor’s center and the trail down to the lake. We went back a second time with the dogs and stayed two nights in the campground. Crater Lake is an incredible place and I’m really glad we got to experience it as well as we did, even with the camping. Later in the month we went whale watching at Cape Arago State Park (only 5 miles from our house) and saw some Gray Whales.
Me: What time is it?
Les: Like 6 or 6:30.
Me: Then what the hell are you doing in here?
Les: It’s light and I’m up.
Me: It’s a Saturday, it’s my birthday, get the fuck out of here, I’m going back to sleep! 6 o’clock in the goddamn morning, what the fuck is wrong with you?
The best post I wrote in August was about this camping trip and contains the quote from this month.
Quite a bit happened in September 2014. Les and I started dating Labor Day weekend 2004, so for our 10 year anniversary we took a trip down the coast to San Francisco. We took US 101 to California State Route 1 and took a detour on the Avenue of Giants. It was a beautiful drive. We spent a few days in San Francisco doing touristy things like Alcatraz and cable cars. Then we went farther down the California Coast on CA 1, we saw Big Sur, surfers, and elephant seals. In San Luis Obispo we turned around and followed US 101 back to San Francisco. Since US 101 through that part of California is also El Camino Real, we stopped and saw some historical sites and an old Spanish Mission. Once we got back to San Francisco we did one more touristy thing (the overlook at Twin Peaks) and then we just wandered on foot through the neighborhoods. On our way home we stopped in Sacremento and saw the Capitol, then we drove through Lassen Volcanic National Park and the on-fire parts of Northern California. While we were in San Francisco, Les was offered a job in Prescott, Arizona, he accepted it and as soon as we got back from vacation we started packing and planning (I sold my car). His job started on the 30th, so we moved down the weekend before. Once again I worked right up until the day before we left (even though I keep saying I won’t do that again), but we got going on schedule and drove from Coos Bay to Merced, California the first night, and to our new home in Chino Valley, Arizona the second day.
I like cheese!
I didn’t get to write very good blog posts in September because of the packing and the working and the moving, so I think my best one was the one I did entirely on my phone while we were in California.
I expected to be unemployed for a while after we got to Arizona, but I also forgot what it’s like to live in a town that isn’t tiny, so I had a job and a new car within 2 weeks. Les was getting back into the swing of being a reporter, and we had just moved, so we didn’t do a whole lot else. We did take a couple of drives that weren’t too far, Sedona and Agua Fria National Monument.
Me: Who are you calling at this hour?
Les: I have a voicemail.
Me: Who’s it from?
Les: That’s weird, it’s from my brother.
Me: You have to be more specific than that.
Me: That is weird, he never calls. 20 bucks says he’s calling to brag about having unprotected sex.
Les: Yup, she’s pregnant.
Me: I knew it, you people are like bunnies.
One of the things I wanted to do with my blog was write reviews of things I read or saw, that never really materialized until October, so my favorite post from that month is about baseball.
By November we had settled into our Arizona lives pretty well. We took some scenic drives, learned that Joshua Trees grow in Arizona, and toured some ruins. Just as I was getting into the swing of my new job I got bronchitis and nearly lost my voice, as I do every year. I was pretty miserable for a large part of November, but I was well enough for us to do our traditional Thanksgiving away from the world.
Look, I’m a kite!
In November I wrote about two fascinating cities, it was definitely by best post for the month.
Earlier this month Les and I purchased a Federal Lands Annual Pass because so much of the public land in Arizona is federal. We’ve only used it a few times, but I love it already. The first thing we did with it was go to the Grand Canyon, a lifelong dream of mine (although it wasn’t so face-hurtingly cold in my dream). We took a drive for Christmas, but mostly I’ve spent my time going through old photos, cleaning out my storage, and making plans. It snowed today, and I was told to go home from work early since the roads were so bad. And that is probably a good thing since it gave me time to finish this post.
I’m doing algebra … for fun.
My favorite post from December is definitely the one I wrote about Shel Silverstein. It’s written in a stream of consciousness style that I quite enjoy, but don’t often post because the inside of my head is kind of a mess and people shouldn’t have to be subjected to it.