It’s been an unprecedented amount of time since I last updated this blog. In fact, it took a couple of minutes for the WordPress process to come back to me. As always, thanks to those friends and family who have touched base via email and messaging.

Here we are with well over half of the summer gone…well over half the year gone. And I’ve got nothing to show for it. After having lost almost a year in 2020 with no goals achieved, I didn’t anticipate being halfway through 2021 in the same boat. In future years, I am going to look back on this time and wonder, “Why don’t I have something to show for the entire half of the year?” It was understandable in 2020. However, 2021 takes a bit of explaining. Or at least rationalizing.

If I never hear the word “unprecedented” again, it will be okay with me. I am pretty sick of the adjective being used, or in recent times, overused. The scariest thing about the word “unprecedented,” however is not its overuse. It’s the fear that its use as an adjective to describe things such as politics, weather, crowds, etc. are no longer becoming unprecedented, but rather the “new normal.”

I’ve already spoken about the event that got 2021 off to a turbulent start. Regardless of political affiliation, the eyes don’t lie when it comes to our first failure at peaceful transfer of power. It was definitely an unprecedented way to begin the year, the presidential term, and the decade.

After nine years of living full time in the Winnie, this was the first winter I was not able to travel beyond our borders in search of warmer weather. As the pandemic resurrected over the winter, I continued my efforts to stay a little closer to the farm by exploring the Texas coast. Having grown up in Texas, the Gulf Coast was a familiar playground, though I had never visited it as an RVer. I had fantasies of long walks in shorts and tee shirts, strolling along a sunny beach, the sand between my toes. But instead, I spent my entire time there bundled up in fleece as wind and weather equivalent to a tropical storm hung around for my entire stay.

Crazy weather in Port Aransas. Cars were lined up along the harbor watching the weather move in.

This was the norm for all but one day of the week I spent here…

Even when the sun was out, the wind was brutal. I gave it a week and finally said….

What kind of post would a coastal crawl be without a lighthouse? The hexagonal, three story Half Moon Lighthouse built in 1858, retired 1942 used to stand on piles out in Matagorda Bay where its beacon extended for 12 miles.

Working my way back up the Texas coast, I finally landed in a comfortable spot. Of all places, a city park in Victoria, TX with lovely walking paths next door.

Victoria held my interest longer than I could have anticipated, including the offbeat Contemporary Art Museum.

I did a couple of day trips from Victoria to explore my native-born state. This one to Goliad with a town square full of history.

The county seat of Goliad has a bizarre attraction of the “Hanging tree.”

Nearby Goliad State Park is the location of Mission Espiritu Santo.

Mission Espiritu Santo, moved along the San Antonio River location in 1749, where Franciscan missionaries taught native Aranama people their religious principles. It became a secular church in 1830. It was incorporated into the Goliad State Park in 1949.

This innovative staircase is cut from a single tree. There wasn’t enough space for traditional sized stairs, so they staggered the steps.

But then February came along and said to January, “Hold my beer!” Texas’ worst cold snap in history with zero degree temps, and an unprecedented number of people without power as Texas’ deregulated power grid teetered on the edge of catastrophic failure as over 4 million residents lost power. With no heat to warm their homes, that meant a loss of water supply as well as pipes froze and burst.

I raced back to the farm in central Texas so my Mom would not have to weather the storm alone. Together, we fortified everything from pipes to pantries to endure the storm as roads became impassable, and newscasters warned of food and water shortages. While entire neighborhoods around us lost power for days, miraculously it stayed on at the farm, perhaps the one benefit of being on the same line as the nearby power plant. Determined not to give up the ship, I spent an unprecedented nine straight days of record low temps living inside the Icebox Winnie.

Poor Winnie has never been this cold! I fashioned a “skirt” around her from tarps and old blankets, which helped keep the wind out.

I realize this is laughable by some state’s standards, but we have no equipment to deal with this. The driveway just stays buried until it melts, then freezes over into a solid sheet of ice.

This amount of accumulation is pretty “unprecedented” for our area.

I said I had never slept in the Winnie when it was cold, but when I look at the time stamp on this temperature check, maybe I wasn’t sleeping after all.

One of the tasks that kept me focused throughout the storm was keeping Mom’s birdbath flowing. While it doesn’t appear so from all the ice, the pump is actually still flowing, and one quarter of the water surface is thawed due to her pond heater.

Record-breaking February now behind us, March brought a milestone breakthrough, as my two-month long search for vaccination appointments finally paid off for both my Mom and me. Once we were fully vaxed, we began the uphill climb toward getting caught up on doctor’s appointments postponed during the pandemic. We spent the month of March burning up the road to eye doctors, cardiologist, dentists, testing labs, etc.

April was not fooling with its own unprecedented event. I had driven five miles over to the nearby community park for a walk with my niece, with nothing but a slight chance of showers in the forecast. However, springtime in Texas laughs in the face of weather forecasters. A freak 10 minute hailstorm blew over, dropping racquetball-sized hailstones, and leaving me with $7,000 worth of damage to the Winnie. A busted skylight, holes in the rooftop AC cover, shredded awnings, and some undesirable “texture” in the hood. Had I not driven to the nearby park in the Tracker, its ragtop roof would have no doubt been flattened as well.

Photo courtesy of brother Don. While I was across town walking in the park, he was riding out the storm inside his Navion.

This became the “norm” this spring.

Somehow the ever-tenacious Texas bluebonnets managed to survive the wild spring weather.

While it wasn’t the most prolific year I had seen, the powdery fragrant blue harbingers of spring still made a respectable showing.

It would take the rest of April and all of May to complete the repairs to the Winnie. Meanwhile, May on into June was filled with unprecedented heat domes in the PNW, droughts in the desert, floods in the plains, fires throughout the forests, record bookings at RV parks, and unprecedented crowds overflowing our National Parks, thwarting RVing plans as fast as I could make them.

I hopped from one park to the next while awaiting repair parts.

Unwelcome occupants in one of the parks…I am pretty sure this is a copperhead.

Ebony and Ivory

Sunset over Joe Poole Lake.

Between the waves of bad weather, bad crowds and bad news, I just couldn’t battle it this summer. So it seemed like a good time to stay put for awhile in the most comfortable place I could think of, so I retreated to a mountaintop perch in the national forest of New Mexico.

As a result of these unprecedented times, I have spent far too much time away from the things I love most. Travel, taking photographs of the beauty that surrounds me, and writing about those experiences to fill in all space on the blog and the space in my life. I have missed those things to the point that it aches sometimes. I have often said there is a reason why bloggers only seem to write about the good times, and don’t often tell the complete story. It’s tough to get motivated to write about the challenging times. Too much “unprecedented” can do that to a person.

24 thoughts on “Unprecedented!

  1. So great to hear from you, Suzanne. I wish for peace for all of our souls from this “unprecedented” mess. Thanks for your post!

  2. I have been checking your blog regularly and wondering how you were holding up having known of some of this. So glad to see your posting again as your absence certainly was unprecedented 🙂 I keep hoping we will all live to see that “this too will pass”! Keep hanging in there!

  3. I’m so glad to hear from you . I was starting to get worried. What a year for you. Glad you’re back on the road now. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself because all our forests are on fire. Hang in there.

  4. A welcome, interesting, fun and insightful post Suzanne. As previous readers have noted, you were missed. Great to see you & your mother are safe & secure. Your obviously adapting, thriving and overcoming the many challenges offered up by our current crazy environment- Thank you for getting the vaccines and shearing your experiences, observations and photography with us via your blog

  5. I can’t resist saying ‘welcome to winter’! We had a mild winter here, with only foot of snow in the backyard for most of three months. We missed our normal week of -30. Glad you made it through and hope you’re back now.

  6. So glad to see your post! There wasn’t any travel for the other half, and not that much for me this summer, but… September is almost here and menu planning for our annual river trip has commenced. It’s planned to be a very lazy 8 days in Labyrinth Canyon this year.

  7. So glad to see you are back and that you are ok. I had wondered why you stopped blogging, concerned that something might have happened to you. I’ve been following your blog for several years and always look forward to reading about your travels.

  8. Well, it truly has been a year. I am so sorry about the damage to the Winnie, and the fact that you had to sleep in the Winnie during the cold. We’re in Spokane now, adjusting to more square feet. We’re walking, we’re walking…….

  9. It’s so good to hear from you again! What a crazy several months it has been. Fixing the hail damage must have been challenging. At least you got a small amount of travel in, what with TX coast and now in NM. The crowded camping circumstances has made us happy we did not buy another RV yet.

  10. Great to get your update, Suzanne. You used my least favorite word so many times I lost count. Best statement: I think unprecedented may be the new normal….or something to that effect. Sigh. We got cold on the Texas coast as well, but also had some good times. But that Texas snow? Sure glad we weren’t trying to cross the country that time. I saw that weather when it was happening and was glad we weren’t traveling. We managed to get out each month so far this year, but not far from home, and never went south during the winter as we usually do. Now mountain camping is out due to fires and smoke. But. We are heading for Utah in late September….Capitol Reef, Bears Ears, Canyonlands, Arches….fighting the crowds I would imagine. This time caravanning with Mo’s brother and wife who made reservations all along the way. Whew! No boondocking? Hookups in the heat??? What a concept….not our usual way of traveling in Southern Utah. No fighting the crowds for spots that are now all filled up with RVr’s? I’ll let you know how it goes in the blog.

  11. It’s been a tough time for all of us who would rather be back on the road. We’ve felt the same way traveling with the virus and crowds. But we are finally heading out again for a real MH trip. We leave Sept 7 heading for Farmington, NM where we will stay for a few days and explore the Bisti area. It has been on my radar for soooo long. Your trip there had me roaring to go. From there we are headin into Colorado for some adventures. I’ll send you an email for some hints and hiking help!! If you aren’t too busy, we you are can join us!!?? Great to hear from you.

  12. I have been in a “lull” too. It’s hard to write when you are in the doldrums. I have to admit though you went through much harder times then I have here in SMA.
    I kept up with my granddaughter and her fiance in Austin who lived in front of their living room fireplace for ten days with no electricity or water. I’m shocked that you were in the Winnie! Good grief. Then to add insult to injury, the hail storm for gosh sake.

    You are a brave soul to be doing international travel. Much braver then I! I haven’t even been to the USA in 3 1/2 years! One of these days……….

    Great to see your two blogs and will look for more in the coming weeks and months.

    I do hope to get to the USA for the booster shot as there are no more shots in Mexico it seems. All those in the 20-29 years of age still have not been vaccinated as yet! Very troubling………..We are back in the “red zone” again as we were in March 2020! Oy vey

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