2012 / Camping / Hiking / Nature / Travel

2012: A Year in Review


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Holiday Card

Hello friends, for our second post I thought I’d take a moment to backtrack and share with you the history of Jon and my relationship and the events that subsequently spurred us to start this blog. I can’t think of a better way to do so than to share the card and letter that Jon and I created to send to our friends and family for last month’s holiday season. Jon wrote a lovely summary, included below, to fill everyone in on the adventures we had over the past year since we met in February of 2012. Hopefully for those of you just tuning in, this gives you a better idea of who we are, and what we do.

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Sunshine in the La Sals

Whether it was in the deserts of Utah, the mountains of Montana, or the Pacific Coast of Oregon and California, this year was nothing short of amazing! The first part of this year was spent at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Leigh and I met there in February and spent nearly every weekend of the spring months exploring the desert and mountains of Utah and Colorado. We hiked in Bryce Canyon National Park, Staircase of the Escalante National Monument, and Capital Reef National Park. We had a romantic weekend in Telluride, Colorado and soaked in hot springs. We camped in the mountains and kayaked on the Colorado River. In late April, Leigh and I bought a used Ford Ranger with a camper shell on the back, and quickly turned it into an adventure vehicle, which we appropriately named “Sunshine.”

In May, Leigh went to work at Glacier National Park in Montana. I traveled to visit her for her birthday in July, and we spent the week backpacking, fishing, and fending off bears. In September, Leigh returned to Utah and we resumed our weekly adventures with Sunshine. We attended a beer festival in Cortez, Colorado, drove 50 miles of dirt back roads over the Abajo Mountains in Southeast Utah, and backpacked to Ancient Indian ruins and rock art in Canyonlands National Park. We camped at the rim of massive canyons and in the passes of high peaks, hiked among aspen groves, along pristine streams and over bare desert slick rock. At the end of the seasons in Moab I returned to Wisconsin just in time for the hunt with Dad, Jimmy, and the boys, and Leigh traveled home to spend Thanksgiving with her parents.

Golden GateOn Black Friday, Leigh flew in to Chicago and the next week was a whirlwind family tour before we set out for the west coast. Starting December 1st we spent the next 20 days driving Sunshine across the country. We made stops in Badlands National Park, drove through the Black Hills and saw Mount Rushmore. We cruised into Yellowstone, covered with a light dusting of snow, and were promptly greeted by elk, antelope, big horn sheep, and bison. We wrapped up that day with a dip in a wonderful natural hot spring while flurries fell around us. We moved on, and enjoyed a lunch next to Lake Coeur d’ Alene in Idaho while a family of bald eagles fished just off shore. From there we made it to the north coast of Oregon, and after a visit with Uncle Joe in Astoria, we wound our way down the Pacific Coast making stops along the way to investigate tide pools, shop for wine, and play on the beach. In the Redwoods we hugged huge trees and camped in the shadows of an ancient forest. We visited historic lighthouses and photographed Point Reyes at sunset. In San Francisco we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, hopped a ride on the Cable Cars, and spent a day cast away on Alcatraz Island.  From there we worked our way through Pinnacles National Monument where we saw countless birds, a bobcat stalking a covey of quail, explored a set of pseudo caves, and hiked to points overlooking rugged terrain.

We arrived in Southern California in time for Christmas with Leigh’s parents in Long Beach. On Christmas Eve we got the news that we landed a spring job as Seasonal Naturalists in the Santa Monica Mountains, doing environmental education with 5th and 6th graders. 2012 was full of fun and adventure, love and memories, and I’m sure 2013 will bring more of the same.

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