Hi everyone and Happy New Year!
Welcome to my annual look back at the past year and a peer into the year ahead. A lot of folks are happy to put 2020 behind them, I am too. After the stay safer a home order came down here in Wisconsin on Friday March 13, 2020, our lives changed dramatically. We stopped going to the YMCA four or five times a week to work out, stopped going to the grocery store a few times a week, and freely inviting anyone into our home to chat or stay. We started to wear masks, washed our hands until they were raw, estimated the distance of six feet, avoided crowds, and stayed home most of the time. Thanks to Zoom, Facetime, email, text messaging, phone calls, social media, and the old fashioned writing of letters we kept in contact with family and friends. During the warm months, we gathered with our neighbors for drinks on the driveway (social distancing of course) to talk with someone other than our partners! We greeted the many people that came out of their homes for their daily walks around the neighborhood, it was refreshing and a welcome diversion from yard work.
As the weather got colder and we grew weary of the pandemic, it seemed like our days were like the movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. Like Bill we had to look inward to find our purpose and figure out ways to change up our daily routine. For entertainment, beside reading books, we watched all the episodes of “The Crown” and just started on “The Queen’s Gambit.” We also have watched a couple of travel programs that will help us plan our next adventures once travel is safe. With a couple more months of winter, my Traveling Partner and I will need to be even more creative to break out of our routines. I could clean my office or instead take a nap! At this point, it looks like we’ll be cloistered until summer unless the vaccine roll-out takes off at high speed in the next month.
Enough of a focus on the consequences of the pandemic. You might be wondering how I did on my 2020 New Years resolution. I’m happy to report three out of four were fulfilled. I resolved to continue writing this blog and sharing photos, I met that goal with 52 posts despite limited opportunities for travel and taking photos. I think I took the fewest number of photos in the past year since at least 2003.
Another of my resolutions was to keep a journal. I happy to say that a few days after the stay at home order went into effect, I began to write in my journal at least two or three times a week, sometimes more. I’ve referred to it more than once to verify my recollection of an event. By the way, today is day 296 of staying safe from the virus.
I also pledged to take a writing class in 2020. I actually took two and then hired a writing coach. I meet monthly with her via Zoom where she reviews my work and offers suggestions for improvement. I’m currently working on a memoir of my time in the Army during the early 1970’s. I’ve shared a few of my pieces on this blog. Check them out by clicking on the links: The Barn, The Country Elevator, and Two Dams. I also published a small book of photos and writing about my parents titled “On the Porch with Mom and Dad.” It was a good year for writing.
The resolution that I didn’t achieve was my goal to take 2,750,000 steps in 2020. Unfortunately, I fell short by taking just 2,337,692 steps. To state it another way, I walked over 1000 miles last year or about 2.85 miles per day.
For next year, I’m going to strive for the 2,750,000 steps in 2021. This means I need to add about 1100 steps a day over my 2020 daily count to reach this goal. I resolve to keep writing this blog, shoot more photos to share, and take more writing classes. With that in mind, I’m thinking of writing a book of memoirs, more for my family than to publish and sell. I don’t think many people would be that interested in my life! I’ll keep you posted.
While the coronavirus did keep us home for most of 2020, we did manage to get in a few camping trips. Our first was to Kettle Moraine State Forest in Southeastern Wisconsin. The main purpose was to do a shake down cruise with our new travel trailer, Minnie the Winnebago. Minnie for short. The Red Rider liked towing this trailer so we think there are longer excursions in our future, once the virus is behind us. We had a pleasant and relaxing three day stay exploring the busy park, hiking the trails, and spotting the wildlife.
In the spring, we were contacted by the staff at the Point Beach State Forest on the shores of Lake Michigan to inquire if we were interested in volunteering as campground hosts. We accepted their offer for the month of September in return for free camping. Our duties were to serve as the source of information as the park office was closed. We also cleaned firepits and picked up any trash left by visitors. Let me tell you, we were busy! The campground of 127 sites was full up every weekend and almost full during the week. When families with kids packed up and headed for home on Sunday afternoon, they were replaced with retired folks who went home for the weekends. It was good to get away and enjoy time communing with nature.
Despite our busyness, we had time to walk the trails, check out the beach, and the Rawley Point Lighthouse located close to the park entrance.
Point Beach is about seven miles north and east of Two Rivers, population around 11,000. Manitowoc is five or six miles south of Two Rivers, population about 33,000. We enjoyed checking out both these towns during our stay. Memorial Drive connects the two towns following the shoreline of Lake Michigan. There is a walking and bike path with rest stops and parking lots spaced out along the route. We noted that it was well used except on those days when the wind and waves were blowing from the east.
We made a joke that Two Creeks must be a suburb of Two Rivers! It’s actually thirteen miles north of Two Rivers and the site of a new solar farm.
Before the pandemic began, we spent a long weekend in Door County, Wisconsin. We’ve been there many times in the warm months of the year but never in the winter. We rented a little cottage called the Lily Pad situated on the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal. Across the canal, several lake freighters were in port for rehab and repair. We had a relaxing time and enjoyed driving the two-lane roads of Door County with very little traffic.
We stopped at the Pioneer Store in Ephraim, near the tip of the Door Peninsula, for some snacks. We met the proprietor and had a delightful conversation about the history of her store and a little about the area.
In early March, our Friendship Force Club served as hosts to an Open World delegation from Russia. A group of five women along with a facilitator came to Madison to study approaches to increase women in STEM (Science, Technology, Enginerring, and Math) fields. We hosted one of the delegates, Julia, from St. Petersburg. She’s wearing the red coat in a couple of the photos below. Julia is a high school teacher of English and works with a group to encourage young women to enter STEM fields. She spoke excellent English and would strike up a conversation with anyone she met. They arrived in Madison on Friday March 6 so had an opportunity for some cultural learning over the weekend. As their program began on Monday, the news about the cornonavirus became more intense and distrubing. By Thursday all the educational programs were cancelled and the delegation found out they were leaving early Friday morning March 13 to make the return trip to Russia before all flights to Europe were shut down. They learned upon arrival in Moscow, they would need to quaratine for fourteen days. We dropped Julia off at the airport and bid the other delegates farewell. On the way home, a few of us stopped at a restaurant for breakfast. Little did we know that it would be the last time we would dine inside a restaurant for the remainder of the year!
We ended the stay by our new friends from Russia with this photo. Joined together as one.
Well folks, that’s my retrospect and review of 2020. I look forward to being with you in the next year. It’s an honor have you travel with me wherever it takes us. Let’s pledge to be better, do better, and act better in 2021. A goal that I’m going to strive for. Please join me on this quest.
Happy New Year!!!
Until next week, happy virtual travels!