Waiting, Waiting on the World to Change

So.  Here we are at last.  December 31st, the day I’ve been waiting to roll around for the better part of 2020.  There are so many words to be said about the passage of this year, yet I wonder if attaching such significance to a date on the calendar is a good thing.

I look back to New Years Eve 2019 as a published a post from the United Airlines departure lounge on my way to Khartoum. I shutter to look back on those words I wrote that night, setting my intentions for the coming year. “…the promise of a new decade in the year 2020 feels like a great step toward restoring some balance to our lives. As a Libra who needs everything to balance, I can’t think of a better year to offer the promise of hope than “2020!”

Wow. What a statement. Who could have ever dreamed what lay ahead. So I dare not speak a word as I peek over the top of the clock toward 2021 with great trepidation.  Best we can hope for is possibility that a clean slate on the calendar can bring to begin anew.

I can thank 2020 for new friends met along the way. Lynette, Sarah, Jasper and I have kept in touch in a Facebook group dubbed “Habesha Huns” named for Ethiopia’s local beer. Photo Feb, 2020

Nowhere does plastic plague the planet like in Ethiopia…one thing the world really needs to change!

Seeking balance on Munroe Island, Kerala, India, March 2020.

I remember the last day of January as I sat under a tattered beach umbrella mounted in an old concrete-filled tire beside the Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia. I was perched on the old tire next to Pauline, one of the women from our Dragoman overland tour group. Though Pauline is from Australia, she is of Chinese descent, and bears the unmistakable Asian characteristics. We were waiting on members from our tour group to return from the falls, when a couple of young local boys approached us and began taunting Pauline, asking her if she had brought the Coronavirus with her from China. That’s when I first sat up and took note at the realization that news had reached this remote village.

Later, I think back to the taste of panic in the back of my throat as I googled “How to make a mask” on Youtube in preparation for my flight to flee Goa, India. Scared, yet determined, I was motivated by the thought of getting sick in a country that still practices hirudotherapy, the use of leeches as medical devices.

Waiting out my two week quarantine upon return from India.

Waiting on my two week quarantine after crossing the state line into New Mexico.

Waiting on the return of test results after a close family member was exposed to COVID.

Waiting out family gatherings.

Waiting on my convection oven to preheat. After eight years of full timing, this was the year I finally learned how to use it.

My first ever attempt at a “spatchcock.” compliments to Allison who gave me the idea. (This was a Cornish hen, not a whole chicken!)

If I saw a painting of this dramatic sunset sky, I would likely think “That’s not very realistic looking!”

My second serendipitous owl sighting this year.

Still, in thinking through these milestones, I am reminded that I was able to carve out some really good memories from a year that has otherwise felt so miserable. I saw some incredible places and met some really fun people who have become fast friends. And I am coming out of 2020 with the same number of healthy family members as I entered in. There is much for which to be grateful.

Nothing like having to watch your favorite niece graduate on TV!

Our favorite pastime….going to Sonic for Happy Hour.

A reminder that as if 2020 was not strange enough, an 18-wheeler lost on this lone country road decided our front lawn was a good place to make a U-turn, bogging up to the axles.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Gathering wood for the 2020 Winter Solstice, Dec 21st.

Sun setting on the shortest day of the year, as we begin tipping now toward the light. aaahhh…

Not only was I treated to a beautiful sunset, but it was also the night of the planet convergence where Jupiter and Saturn came closer than they have been in 800 years. To the naked eye, the planets appeared as one, earning the name “The Christmas Star.”

So from my desolate, solitary confinement campsite in the middle of nowhere, I urge you to stay safe, and stay vigilant. As I have said many times throughout this holiday season, I feel like I have been running a marathon for nine months all the way from India, trying to outrun this corkscrew of a virus. I am not about to collapse just short of the finish line, drunk from a COVID cocktail if I can help it!

My COVID Coiffure. This is what happens when the gray wins out over the faded Loreal “Warm Chestnut Brown.” I have not had a cut or a color since Oct, 2019!

I had a wonderful end to summer and autumn doing some “slow travel” through the neighboring state of New Mexico. First indication I have crossed the State Line…

Second indication I have crossed the state line…

Absentee from Abiqui!

“The Associated Press has called this race.” Who else has called this race? Let me count the ways…

I had such a great time touring New Mexico, starting with the town where it all began, “Cloudcroft, Elev 9,000 ft.”

Coming upon the Very Large Array at sundown was a special treat.

Sadly, the VLA Visitors Center was closed due to COVID.

Maybe this is the hobby I need since I am not comfortable “flying commercial.”

I hope you will join in my joy with a toast as we flip the calendar page, while also flipping off what has been a year like no other. I wish you the happiest and healthiest of years in 2021….though for me personally, it won’t feel like a “new year” until High Noon on January 20th.

Thanks to all friends and followers for your all your support of the blog! Happy New Year!

“It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want

That’s why we’re waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change”

~John Mayer, Continuum

View from the Flight Deck

Despite the fact that I have two avid “birders” in my family, I have never been able to drum up much interest in birds beyond marveling at nature’s creative palette pertaining to their feathers. I have long joked that my bird “life list” includes black birds, brown birds, white birds, red birds, yellow birds, etc. I would travel out of my way to see a bird Continue reading

ABQ: How Low Can You Go?

After 7 glorious days of near-perfect weather, I left the Bisti Badlands sooner than I would have liked. There was a cold front on the way, and temps were predicted to drop below freezing. The Winnie was not winterized, and since this appeared to be a fast moving front with temps returning to the 70’s on the back end, I didn’t want to go to the trouble and inconvenience of emptying the tanks and blowing out the lines for just a Continue reading

Aliens in the Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness

As I mentioned in my previous post, the only time I ran into another person at the “Egg Hatchery” was when I encountered a photographer in the area at sunset. I had recorded the most direct route as a track on my Gaia GPS app to be certain I could retrace my steps. And I had timed the two mile journey on more than one occasion to maximize my “golden hour” time at the eggs, while still having plenty of time to return to the parking lot with enough light to see the terrain. In addition, I loaded my backpack with all sorts of Continue reading

Bisti Badlands Bewilderness

I’ve never been one to ask the question, “What can possibly go wrong next??” as I often find that as soon as I ask the question, I am shown the answer. The year 2020 has turned out to be one of the worst of my lifetime, second only to 2015 when I lost both my youngest brother and my Dad within 3 months of each other. Still overall, I am reminded its been a good life.

But when thinking about bad news, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does bad stuff keep happening because I have written off this entire year to suck? Or is it a bad year because bad stuff keeps happening? In other words, can a “year” have a self-fulfilling prophecy? Continue reading

Facing Ghosts at Ghost Ranch

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There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!

I stayed way past my limit in Cloudcroft. Even with confirmation from the Ranger that the Forest Service was taking a bit of a “who’s counting?” approach during COVID, coupled with the fact that I did move around a bit, I didn’t want to wear out my welcome.

I had hoped I could stay long enough to see the large stand of aspens at the top of the hill in my favorite meadow turn gold. It was my favorite hiking destination, as it was behind a hiker’s gate restricting vehicular traffic, and with the exception of Labor Day when they opened the gate, I rarely saw anyone up there. The wild horses from the Continue reading

VIA Rail Canada: “The Canadian”

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While the Rocky Mountaineer was everything I hoped it would be, from stunning scenery to pampered luxury, let’s face it, it is a tourist attraction. While I wasn’t sure what to expect from the next leg of my journey on VIA Canada’s “The Canadian” I was pretty certain it would feel a lot more like an authentic train journey offering the true Continue reading

Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer: First Passage to the West

Last October, I finally reached that long awaited “Medicare Milestone.” Since it was a significant birthday for me, I wanted to commemorate it in a special way. But the blog typically runs behind, and I ran out of time to document my celebration before I jumped on the plane bound for my Dragoman tour through Sudan and Ethiopia last December. After that, I never seemed to get the blog caught back up.

So now that I have all this spare time on my hands, freed up by lack of travel planning, I am going back to recreate the narrative and share the photos on how I celebrated my Continue reading