Jim on Engineer Mountain (Sep 28, 2003)

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Jim & Karen’s (it’s almost) Christmas Letter (12/24/2023)

We’ve missed the last couple of years writing our Christmas Letter, and I can’t offer any excuse other than Jim’s inertia. I won’t try to cover the missing years; we’ll just start from the beginning of this one, to the best of my memory (apologizing ahead of time for the inevitable lapses).

We began the year with Karen and the kitties (Mosquito, Rudy, and Turtle) at our park model (trailer) in Mesa, AZ and Jim volunteering 4-days a week at Tonto National Monument a little northwest of Globe, AZ, about 65 miles from our place in Mesa. The plan was to spend more time together (Jim coming home to Mesa on days off). The plan was largely successful and we were able to spend our wedding anniversary (26 years) and Karen’s birthday (magic-65) together for the first time in several years. We also had hoped to spend more time with our grandchildren, but working weekends and days off during the week, it just didn’t quite sync with their schedule.

We had managed to avoid Covid for the last two years, but our luck ran out in February. Karen caught it from someone at her weekly Euchre game early in the month and when Jim came home on Monday, he caught it from her. We spent two miserable weeks fighting it despite the fact that all of our immunizations were up-to-date. Karen even was prescribed Paxlovid, got better briefly, then relapsed. Anyway, we recovered with no long-term ill-effects; so much for that experience.

Karen headed back to Durango in early April so she could get an early start on her garden. What a winter to miss! It was a record for winter snow in Colorado and spring was late, but wet. Jim followed at the end of April, but the next few weeks is one of the blurs… I know we were getting the RV ready for our annual trip to Kerrville, TX, but specifics escape me. I do know that we took off toward the end of May and had a delightful 3-weeks at the 51st annual Kerrville Folk Festival despite the fact we had another RV-related “event” on the way. We were home for about 3-weeks and then we were off again, this time headed for the High Mountain Hay Fever Blue Grass Festival in Westcliffe, CO.

Summer whizzed by… son Mischa, Linette, and grandkids Anna and Wes came for a visit. Grandma Karen was amazing with the grandkids, spending hours on the river across the street from our house with them playing in the sand and Anna putting on her best impression of a fish. Grandma and Grandpa even got a whole 2 days and nights with the grandkids while Mischa and Linette went to northern Colorado to watch one of the wild horse herds up that way.

RV fun continued. Mischa helped Jim remove the old gas-absorption refrigerator in preparation for installing a new residential refrigerator in the RV. The new refrigerator arrived and installation proceeded with help from neighbors. Everything in preparation for our impending departure in September for 10-days in Flagstaff. Karen to do a 10-day raft trip on the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to 210 miles downstream; Jim picking up daughter Kristin in Phoenix to spend the week seeing National Monuments in the Flagstaff area, and attending the Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival.

The trip to Flagstaff in the RV was not without incident… of course. About 35 miles east of Flagstaff, the left-rear inside tire exploded. More fun. Jim sat on the side of the road for almost 10 hours waiting for AAA road service to arrive (they never did). Karen had driven the Prius to Flagstaff to be on time for the introductory raft trip meeting that afternoon, so was able to get a motel room, come out on the highway to pick Jim up, and in the morning Jim drove back to the rest area where the RV was waiting for the tow. Anyway, Karen had a great trip on the river, Jim and Kristin enjoyed time together, and the RV got repaired eventually.

So that almost gets us to the end of the year. Jim didn’t feel that the volunteer gig at Tonto National Monument offered enough challenge and decided to return to Big Bend for the winter.  Karen wanted to spend the winter in Durango, and so we’re spending the winter apart… again.

Winter has arrived in Durango, but it’s sunny and warm at Big Bend National Park. Jim isn’t feeling so enthused about it this year after all, and swears that this is the last year. Karen likewise is not happy with her idleness in retirement and has decided she needs to do something. She has done some volunteering associated with her master gardener credential, but is firmly oriented toward service and so has taken a part time job with the Durango Senior Center. Part time gives her flexibility, and so she is planning to take a few weeks off in February and bring herself and the cats to Big Bend for a visit. Jim is eagerly looking forward to that! It’s going to be a super-bloom year given all the rain in October and November; it’s the last week in December as I write this, and the Texas blue bonnets (lupine) are already growing everywhere. Another month or so and they’ll be flowering… early!

View of Durango from Animas City Mountain

That's about it for now... I never seem to have enough time to get everything onto these pages that I plan, but read on, check back here from time to time, and I will update information here as things change. Feedback is always appreciated!!!

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