Let's kick 2021 to the curb!!
It's time once again for my favorite post - the annual "year in review." The 2021 version is extra special, since it's my 10th YIR recap. Can't believe I've stuck in there for so long - still plugging away, when many of my favorite blogs have faded into oblivion.
After a craptastic 2020, I thought the year 2021 would be better. It started off great - with me learning how to be retired. (I was a model student!) Then along came vaccinations for all, providing freedom to travel again. But on my first big trip - finally visiting my parents since the start of COVID, I ended up having a health issue that required emergency brain surgery. Once I recovered from that ordeal the Delta variant reared it's ugly head, again confining my activities closer to home. And now we have Omicron.....
With retirement, my photo-taking has ramped up but my sharing of images not so much. I've been so busy out there with my camera getting captures, it consumes much of the time I would ordinarily use for editing and processing of photos, not to mention creating blog stories. Sooo.....postings to this blog have not been as frequent as I anticipated. Oh well, maybe I'll do better in 2022. (We'll see!)
Nonetheless, as per my end-of-year ritual, I went back to the archives and pulled out a dozen images that I think best capture my experiences in 2021. As always, these aren't necessarily my finest photographs, but ones that I feel best represent the year now past. So sit back and enjoy this latest installment of Linda's Lens year in review!
|Sunrise over the Columbia River Gorge
January - I was newly retired and already loving the freedom. I got my first taste of how wonderful retired life could be on the first week of January when Cheri and I did an early morning Gorge trip to catch sunrise. It was great to wake up early for something I wanted to do. As the sun crested over the horizon, I thought to myself "I've been waiting my entire career for this!" A good precursor of things to come.
|Shore Acres State Park
I made a solo midweek trip to the south-central Oregon coast to capture waves and sunsets. Staying in a freezing cold yurt at Sunset Bay State Park (the heater didn't work very well) I warmed up by getting out and photographing the unique coastline at nearby Shore Acres State Park. I also spent a night in the nearby town of Bandon. One of my favorite coastal towns, it's always a pleasure to capture sunset on Bandon's lovely beach.
|Cottonwood Canyon State Park
I reserved a cabin at Cottonwood Canyon State Park, someplace I'd wanted to visit for a couple of years. Located in north Central Oregon, the dry climate here was a welcome relief from the rainy weather west of the Cascades. The terrain here was also quite different from the green, mossy forests around Portland. I enjoyed the wide-open spaces, partially sunny skies, (a rarity in March where I live!) and rolling hills along the John Day River. I had a great time hiking most of the trails, and finally spotted some of the resident Bighorn sheep on my last day.
|Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
One of the advantages to being retired was the opportunity to visit places during the week, when crowds were far smaller. One such place was the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, which after remaining shuttered during 2020, opened it's gates to visitors again in 2021. Cheri and I bought season photographers passes so we could go anytime we wished. I made good use of my pass with several visits over the course of their season. The most memorable trip came in late April, when we journeyed to the farm at dusk. We lucked out with a nice sunset, and had a great time photographing images of a colorful sky over equally colorful flower fields.
|Spring flowers in the Gorge
Due to last spring's COVID quarantine, I missed the entire wildflower season in the Columbia River Gorge. Now that trails were reopened, I wasn't about to miss it a second time! During April and May I logged plenty of hiking miles on both sides of the river capturing acres of beautiful yellow balsamroot blooms, along with many other colorful spring wildflowers.
|Happy to be out of the hospital
June.....the month where everything changed. I'd been happily marching through retired life enjoying the copious free time and good health to do everything. Then what started as a headache turned into emergency brain surgery for an abscess. After a successful surgery and 6 days in the hospital, I emerged with an iv pump that would be my constant companion for the next 5 weeks, flooding my system with strong antibiotics to rid my body of the infection. Thankfully this emergency occurred when I was visiting my parents in South Dakota. I had a great team of great doctors and nurses and my family to take care of me. This ordeal made me realize that life is precious and things can change in the blink of an eye. I'll never again take my health for granted.
|Fawns in my parent's backyard
Due to my medical emergency, what was originally planned to be a one-week visit turned into a 2-month stay with my parents. However, my 2-month treatment duration in South Dakota turned out to be a blessing in disguise - I got to spend lots of quality time with my parents. After not seeing them at all in 2020, it was great to have the bonus weeks to fully catch up. While recovering I whiled away many hours sitting in their huge backyard, watching the wildlife pass through (lots of turkeys and deer). Of particular interest were four fawns who made frequent visits, often getting a drink from the birdbath on hot summer days. Photographing the local wildlife kept me busy while I slowly recovered.
|One of my first hikes, post-surgery
In mid-August my treatment finally complete, I returned home to Oregon. It was wonderful to be back in the beautiful Pacific NW once again! I'd missed the hiking trails most, so I didn't waste any time in getting back outside. One of my first hikes post-surgery was a trek on some new trails at Mt Hood Meadows. A local ski resort in the winter, Meadows reinvented itself as a summer destination with the addition of several new treks around it's ski runs. I can't tell you how happy I was to be walking around my favorite mountain once again, even if it was just a short saunter.
|The neighborhood owl
One of the things I've done much more of this year has been wildlife photography. My neighbor Cheri, who captures amazing wildlife images, took me under her wing, introducing me to several places where birds and other animals congregated and instructing me in the art of capturing animals in motion. I've had a great time these past several months, photographing eagles, sandhill cranes, osprey, blue herons, wood ducks, pelicans, woodpeckers, and many more creatures. But the best bird sighting of the year occurred right in our own neighborhood. Cheri spotted a barred owl on one of her morning walks, and good friend that she is, alerted me to the owl's location so I could snap a few photos of my own.
|Fall colors at Clear Lake
October is my favorite month of the year. It's the time when fall colors erupt here in the Pacific NW. Not being confined to weekends, it was a busy month traveling from various locations, chasing the peak autumn hues. One of my highlights was spending a couple of days at Central Oregon's Clear Lake and surrounding areas. With showy vine maple bushes lining it's shores, this lake is one of the best places to see fall color in Oregon. And the lake, with it's crystal-clear waters, is a worthy attraction in itself.
|The Eagle Creek Trail, post-fire
After being closed for nearly four years, the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge finally reopened this summer. Torched from a horrific wildfire that consumed much of the Oregon side of the gorge, I was afraid this favorite hiking trail had been irreparably damaged. Immediately after it's opening, the Eagle Creek trail was mobbed by hikers. Not keen on fighting the masses, I waited for a rainy November day to make my first visit post-fire. Although many areas were full of charred trees, I discovered the canyon green and bursting with lovely fall colors. Much better than anticipated! Walking this trail once again was like seeing an old friend.
|Happy to be back skiing!
When I was lying in the hospital last June recovering from a brain abscess and several neurological issues, one of my thoughts was "Will I be able to ski again?" In December, almost six months to the date of my surgery, I happily returned to the slopes of Mt Bachelor (with a brand new helmet of course). I picked right up from where I left off the previous season, with no apparent effects from the summer's infection and treatment. I was elated! After several long months of recovery, things finally felt normal again.
Earlier this fall I was cleaning out a closet when I discovered a bunch of my old diaries. I'd faithfully documented my life during high school, but the entries tapered off quickly once I went off to college. The last time I'd written was in the early 90s, after that life got too busy to continue. Inspired to resurrect this tradition I considered the monumental task of penning a 3-decade catchup. But then I came to the realization - I'd been keeping a diary right here since 2008. This blog has been a visual account of my life, documenting events much better than any written diary could. There's a lot of memories archived here on Blogger. I find much enjoyment re-reading posts from the past and perusing photographs of previous hikes and outings. This is what keeps me going year after year, even when comments to my blog dwindle and my enthusiasm for creating another blog post wanes.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is I'll keep on sharing photos and stories here for another year. As 2021 draws to a close, I'm already hatching plans for new adventures to make up for the time I lost this summer. I'm hoping for a healthy 2022 so I can do all the things I'd hoped to accomplish in 2021 and more.
As always, thanks to you readers who are still hanging in there for commenting, viewing the photos, and reading the posts on this blog. May the coming year bring you peace and health (and hopefully an end to COVID).
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!