Sunday, January 1, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new

Even though 2012 doesn’t feel any different than 2011, I’ll go ahead and accept that there’s a whole new year up ahead. I’ll do so by throwing plenty of winks in Joe’s direction. Also, I’ve carefully selected one photo for every month of the past year, the year that only just recently was replaced by 2012. Each photo was chosen based on how well it reflects my feelings for the particular month represented, but I am an emotional enigma so it was very difficult to pinpoint just one photo. Most of the stories associated with the pictures can be found by rummaging around this blog for older posts, so I’ve kept the explanations fairly brief. In all, 2011 was a great year with absolutely zero regrets. In fact, if I could keep on reliving it, I would, even the part when we lived in New Mexico.


 One of the first things we did after moving to Las Cruces, NM was head out to White Sands, about an hour's drive away. We did this largely because the idea of spending one more day in Las Cruces had become unbearable, and we had only been there for a week. It was a rocky start to the new year, but after exploring some of the surrounding lands we found that a quick and pleasant escape would be waiting for us whenever we needed it. 


While doing laundry one rare afternoon, I was greeted by this unpleasant and very pregnant apache violin spider. Having long feared brown recluses, I knew almost immediately (because of the 3, rather than 4 eyes) that this closely related species was not a spider to mess with. Quickly, with fearful tremolos punctuating through my voice, I called for Joe to come here right now! He, being exactly 24 steps away, took a leisurely 5 minutes to respond, while I stayed in place paralyzed by fear. We killed this unlucky lady, but spent the rest of our time in Las Cruces carefully shaking out every article of clothing before getting dressed each day. Our efforts were rewarded by never receiving a bite, in spite of finding several more spiders during our stay.


In early March Joe and I climbed Organ Needle in the Organ mountains (pictured above). These mountains are quite famous in Las Cruces, because they are the only beautiful thing the city has to offer, I suppose. In any event, their steely charm had called to us both immediately upon arrival and we were anxious to get to the peak. We did, but Joe broke his rib in the process. We made it down safely, though it was touch-and-go for a while. This mountain was a beast to climb, even without a sever ailment it would have been difficult getting back down, and I'm still amazed that Joe did it without help or complaint. That's why he's the brave one.

This was an especially hard month to sum up in just one picture. By April, Joe had been trapping eagles in Arizona for a couple weeks, so I took all my alone time on the road and explored the southwest. But before I could leave Las Cruces behind I had to make it through two symphony performances-- one with the El Paso Symphony, and the other with the Las Cruces Symphony. Both experiences were incredibly uplifting, both for the musical fulfillment but also because I met tons of very nice people. It was a lot of hard work, particularly with the Sleeping Beauty solo, but equally a lot of fun. I'm so glad I got to play with them, and those two performances made our time in Las Cruces worthwhile-- it was a brief taste of life as a professional harpist.


In May Joe and I drove all the way to Mississippi for my grandpa's 80th birthday party. It was well worth it and we got to see a lot of awesome stuff along the way (including the ever elusive aplomado falcon). Introducing Joe to all my Mississippi family members was a big part of the trip, as he became increasingly aware that he was surrounded by republicans. In spite of that, we had such a good time and are ready to go back for more. This picture is the only known documentation of my grandpa smiling-- some people thought it couldn't be done


Joe was asked to help teach a raptor workshop in Wisconsin for a week in June. Seizing the opportunity to learn more about birds and see my dear friend Tiffany, I went along with him. Before and after the workshop, I stayed with Tiffany and her family, and had the most magical time. She's an awesome girl, one of the finest on earth.


Joe was called off to remote Alaska to do some work with gyrfalcons and golden eagles. I flew up and met him in Anchorage for a few days before he had to go back out to the bush. While he was gone I stayed with his friends in Anchorage and explored the city by bike. It was a great week because I was able to experience so many of the places that Joe had told me about from the time he lived up there. When he returned to Anchorage the two of us went exploring, and one great side trip we took was backpacking through Denali Nat'l Park. We hiked up and over mountains, found a gyrfalcon nest, saw the outline of Mt. McKinley among other exquisite views, and slept near a pair of caribou. It was fantastic.


This is from Carlsbad Caverns in eastern New Mexico. Once we knew our time in Las Cruces was up, we took the month of August to see all the nearby places we hadn't yet visited. On that list included the very cool Carlsbad Caverns, complete with the summertime bat exodus.


My most vivid recollections of September are of Joe and I endlessly maneuvering between boxes in our new apartment, while getting used to an entirely new work schedule. It was hectic and took adjusting, but by the time September was over we had a few things figured out. The saving grace of that transition was going on hikes every weekend. We found nearby peaks to scramble up, but also took a couple adventure trips in Utah. It was a great way to clear out of our house, which had also become our work place. The trend of hiking every week continued well into November, and I was proud to note that we had climbed 1 mountain every week since moving back to Las Vegas.


Joe was away in Texas for two weeks during October.  Party Time! But no, actually, I missed him a lot and was comforted only by knowing that he was having an incredible experience out there befriending peregrines and contributing to science, all in the same pop. While he was gone I spent a lot of extra time working and catching up with friends. The weekend before he came home I took a spectacular solo road trip up north to Great Basin National Park and climbed the highest stand alone mountain in Nevada.


In November I was finally allowed into a peregrine's nest. To get there, we simply had to hike to the top of a  mountain, pound in stakes, and rappel to the nest. Getting back up proved to be the hardest part for both of us, as my gangly moose legs kept shooting loose boulders towards Joe's head while I slowly worked my way up to level ground. It was a super cool experience.


The entire Christmas experience was nothing short of fantastic this year, starting Christmas Eve when Joe proposed, and ending a full 24 hours later after a morning of presents and an afternoon family football game. Please enjoy the above picture, properly demonstrating the colorful family (plus David Nivens) that Joe has voluntarily decided to join.

I hope your 2011 was excellent, and your 2012 will be even better!

1 comment:

Ron said...

Quite a year, hope this next one is as good to you (albeit, no more marriage proposals). I'm wondering if you saw the segment on 60 mins Sunday night of Alex, who climbs shear cliffs wihout ropes... worth your research and watching; not that you will try this ridiculously hazardous type of climbing.