Currently living/working: It’s been a holiday whirlwind! We’ve been all over the map this month: Hawaii, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts & Colorado … and we were supposed to return to Alaska 12/26, but Mother Nature had other plans for us. And after three flight cancellations, we decided, let’s just make a Plan B. And that’s why we are currently in Baja, Mexico. Yes, you read that right. Mexico, the country. It’s a long story, but the succinct version is that we have friends who live here who we were planning to visit in March using expiring frequent flier miles. So we called them up and asked if we could arrive a little earlier … like the very next day. Fortunately, they live a flex life like us and said an astounding “Si!” Anyway, I will write a whole separate post about the holidays and our Mexico trip … and hopefully we will be back in Alaska when I write them.
Work-wise, Justin & I did our big gear roundup project this month, the same one we’ve been doing twice a year for Outside Business Journal. We pick the top 50 forthcoming seasonal products out of 100s. It is always an intense project with endless e-mails to PR reps and interpreting specs, but it’s fun. The list will drop next month.
Current mood: I had to do a mental pirouette going back to work after returning from Hawaii Dec. 2, and it felt like whiplash. Stunned & overwhelmed at first, but I eased back into the work groove. Now we are in vacation mode again in Mexico. I know I can’t complain, but I am really really looking forward to getting back home and into my routines.
Currently proud of: Bylines!! I had a very fulfilling year and feel like I really branched out on my paid writing endeavors. Two main projects consumed my summer, and they were very atypical for me. I wrote curriculum for Leave No Trace/Zero Landfill, which just went live last month, and I edited a book about the history of UCO/Industrial Revolution (a gear company), which should come out in a few months. On top of that, I had the usual Backpacker & Outside Business Journal work, and added Alaska Magazine to my mix. Hoping to expand even more in 2022!
Currently regretting: We missed the highest December snowfall on record in our area (I think we got 60+ inches). Not only am I obsessed with watching weather events and love snow, but not being there also equates worry. Since we left, we’ve been concerned about pipes freezing and heat going out, but we have more problems than we anticipated. The snow that fell this month contained higher moisture than usual and there was freezing rain on top of it, so there is now a massive concrete snow berm that has made itself home in our driveway. We’re going to need some serious pick axes to chop this bad boy up (and to all you folks saying just get it plowed, there is a 2-week waiting list for the limited plow services in our town. You usually do not need a plow with our humidity-less light and fluffy powder).
Currently thankful for: Good neighbors and friends who have constantly been checking on our cabin and yurt and giving us reports. We even had a friend ride his snow machine in -15 temps to our yurt to close the door, as heavy snow drifts and wind pushed it open. We have all sorts issues awaiting us.
Currently worried about: I feel like I’m a bottle of worries as I am writing this. Will our flight back to Alaska be canceled for the FOURTH time? Will we get Covid in our travels? Will our roof leak because of heavy snow, or worse, collapse? Will we be able to unearth our buried truck at my uncle’s, start it and drive home? Will my mom fall off the ladder when she is changing her curtains?
Currently not excited about: The mess that awaits us in Alaska. (On a side note, a shelf broke in our well house while we were gone, and the picture of spilled paint—that we just purchased and was full—is fitting for all the $#%#$ that we’ll have to deal with). Additionally, after a moderate-to-warm December we spent all over the US and Mexico, I imagine the below 0 temps will feel like swallowing a bunch of tiny knives and inhaling sandpaper.
Currently excited for: Sleeping in my own bed and not leaving my cabin for the next 3 months.
Current guilty pleasure: Our entire November and December full of travel was a guilty pleasure. Those credit card bills are going to sting.
Current confession: I hiked a pitiful 96 miles in 2021! I am on a mission to double that in 2022.
Currently amazed by: After wading through 100s of specs for forthcoming fall/winter products for our Outside Business Journal project, I am thankful we are NOT into snow sports. How do people afford skis and all the clothing???? On that note, there was one piece of gear for $14,000. Who has that kind of budget for gear??
Besides my book, there aren’t many other trail memoirs out there about New Zealand’s Te Araroa, but Meeting Papa: A Journey on Te Araroa by Michelle Campbell came out right around the same time as mine!! I loved reliving the TA through Michelle’s experience, which was very similar to mine (actually, she accumulated more blisters). Michelle is a Kiwi, so hearing that she—as a native of rugged New Zealand —had similar ups & downs validated the craziness of the TA. She also hiked with her partner, so I was nodding my head in agreement about the couple woes. Michelle’s writing style has tons of candor and humor, and if you hiked the TA, or like trail memoirs, I highly recommend it!
I also read Chasing the Smokies Moon: An Audacious 948-mile Hike by Nancy East. If you’re unfamiliar with the hiking world, you wouldn’t understand “Fastest Known Time (FKT).” But basically it’s covering a lot of trail miles in a little time. As a thru hiker, I cannot even fathom trying to move quickly over some of these trails, so I have mad respect for those who even attempt it. Nancy & her hiking partner, Chris Ford, tackled 947.9 miles of every trail in the Great Smokies in 29 days, while raising money for hiker safety. Besides the endurance this feat requires, the logistics behind that accomplishment were mind-boggling. And Nancy weaves her own personal stories about being a mother, losing her mother, working search and rescue and more for fantastic storytelling. Her story is a good reminder that there are always downfalls, but you can accept them, find solutions and rise above adversity.
Currently watching on Netflix/Hulu/Apple TV/HBO Max: Been reading a lot more than streaming, actually. Although we did see Torn. It’s the story about legendary climber Alex Lowe’s tragic death, told by his son Max Lowe, who was about 10 at the time of his father’s death. Alex’s climbing partner, Conrad Anker, survived, and stepped in to help raise Alex’s three sons, and later married Jennie Lowe. It’s a profound, equally heart-wrenching and heart-warming story.