When I was growing up, my family would regularly attend stock car races at a couple of local race tracks. A few times a year the tracks would have events called Demolition Derbies, where a bunch of stripped-down cars would start out running around the track and purposely wreck each other, with the last car running declared the winner. I’m recalling this through 50+ years of possibly (likely!) faulty memory, but as I recall, somewhere near the end when there were only 2 or 3 cars running, the announcer providing the blow-by-blow commentary would say something like “CAR 83 IS SMOKING BADLY, HAS A COUPLE OF FLAT TIRES BUT IT’S STIIIIIILLLLL RUNNING.” I have to say that after the demolition derby that was 2020, we’re badly damaged but STILL RUNNING. And hopefully running well enough to hang on through 2021.
Somewhat counter to the rest of society (contrarians? us?) and despite the various impacts of the virus, Kathy & I look back on 2020 as overall a very good year. We made some important changes that we possibly would/should have made anyway, but the arrival of Covid made them imperative. It worked out, and WE”RE STILL RUNNING! Believe me though, I am quite sensitive to the fact that not everyone can say the same about 2020. For way too many folks, 2020 was a very ugly year. A disastrous year. A demolition derby with not everyone escaping unscathed. From where I sit, however, life has been pretty darned good and I am thankful for that.
But we traveled. We traveled a bit differently than in past years, with a little more attention paid to places and conditions, avoiding the famous places with big crowds, carrying more of our food and water than we might have taken otherwise, but the country was open and we went. In fact, we traveled more in 2020 than we ever have. We spent 90+ days away from home, crossed off 5 new states and visited friends and family in locations far & wide. Despite only driving 426 miles in March, April & May, we’ve put over 18,000 miles on the Subie since 12/31/19, mostly in the second half of the year and including our 8,000-mile road trip to the Oregon coast and back in September. And we did it safely, staying away from popular places like National Parks and sticking mostly to sparsely-visited National Monuments, National Historic Parks, State Parks and Wildlife Refuges. A number of places were not open so we made do by seeing just the outside. Yes, we traveled!
With exceptional (in hindsight) timing we took three cruises in January-February before the virus hit but have stuck to car travel since then. Staying off airplanes and cruise ships has saved us a bunch of money and allowed us to see parts of the country we might have put off if we had continued to fly places. It looks like that trend will continue in 2021, since the question of when we might expect to receive a vaccine remains a bit of a mystery. That assumes that the vaccines are actually effective, that we can eventually actually get one and that the virus begins to subside. Cruises and air travel will likely need to wait until 2022 for us, but there is still a lot of this country to see and we’re ready to go.
Staying out of restaurants has been very good for our waistlines and for our budget. Kathy & I have never been and will never be skinny, but there is a lot less of each of us to haul around these days. We’ve been making regular donations of too-large clothes to our local Goodwill. Even now when restaurants have mostly re-opened, we’re finding that we like our own cooking just fine and we continue to lose weight at a reasonable and sustainable pace without “dieting.” Interestingly, our reaction to a lot of restaurant food now is that it is over-seasoned, over-portioned, overly meat-centric and over-priced. We’ve got a great source for fresh fish, a nice selection of our own wine, and find that we can dine in for a fraction of the cost of a fancy meal out. We love our restaurant people and have many friends in the business, but it is an estranged relationship these days. We weaned ourselves off of junk food years ago and didn’t succumb to the temptation of “comfort food” during the pandemic.
I took nearly 17,000 photos this year. Not as many as 2019 when I took over 21,000, but still a lot! Why so many? I take a lot of our grandson Edison, and he moves so fast most of them are blurry! The number of photos that are actually worth keeping will be far less but remains to be seen as I’m still working on them. I did get a new camera this year, which was fun, and I have enjoyed working with it and the constantly updated software to process the files.
We have a lot to be thankful for from 2020 despite all of the negative happenings, and we have plenty of reason to look forward to 2021. I don’t know how it will all shake out, but the best we can hope for is to get to 12/31/21 in at least as good a shape as we got to the finish line of 12/31/20. My primary goal is to keep a positive outlook, to find the silver lining in every situation and seek out the positive wherever I need to go to find it!
The photos here are just a selection from the friends and family we were able to visit with this past year and who we look forward to seeing again this coming year!