We begin the third year of the pandemic where the virus seems to still be the boss. Still we are making adjustments to live as “normal” as possible. Instead of cloth or little surgical masks we are wearing the N95 or Kn95 masks. We have received our boosters and feel we can go out as long as we mask up.
We have a couple restaurants at which we can eat outside under propane heaters in the colder weather. Also a couple take out places but mostly we cool at home. Our community, Ananda Village, has a co-op market providing essentials and a few other fun items. We do shop in town which is 30-40 minute drive. In this pandemic we limit our public interactions but always welcome encounters with friends.
We had over 12-14 inches snow last week which is slowly melting. Woke up to 27 degrees this New Years morning and decided to ride. My friend and I usually ride on saturdays together so we loaded up the bikes and headed for lower levels.
The snow had melted a bit but i still needed to scrap if off the back deck in order to open the shed where the road bike is stored. The black object in the back there is my trail bike covered for protection.
I regularly ride my road bike in the area having switched to electric to help with the steep hills.
This quote from one of my teachers is something Itry to live by.
“Forget the past, The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.”
Lord knows i have made many mistakes and have regrets. However, i try to remember this quote when my monkey mind starts thinking of these mistakes and regrets. It really does help. One thing for certain is we can stay in the past in our minds or move forward and be in the present.
Things I will be amazed by, proud hopeful or, grateful for in 2022
1. Amazed we can plan ahead for everything we are doing already
2. Hopeful we can do these things.
3. Concerned about what might happen with wildfires, pandemic, politics
4. We hope The pandemic will no longer the major issue although it will be with us for a long time in some form.
5. Always hopeful The Seahawks win the Super Bowl
6. Am expecting The Warriors win the NBA championship
7. Wouldn’t it be something if Tiger finishes top 5 in the Masters?
8. Hopeful that our village ponds are full in July
9. Looking forward to viewing the photos sent back from the James Webb Telescope.
10. Hopeful We can travel the west in late summer without wildfire smoke
11. Hopeful I’ve created more photo art.
12. Enjoying the new Lord of the Rings Prequel on Prime in the fall.
What a year! We decided to go for it this year with our van. 8 trips with 108 nights out over 15,562 miles driven around the West!
Jan/Feb – Arizona – Our first trip in January found us heading for what we thought would be warmer climate down in Valley of the Sun. spent a few days cycling at White Tanks and Lost Dutchman parks then down to our usual haunts in Tucson where we stayed at Tucson Mountain park, and house sat for our friends in Oro Valley.
March – Death Valley- Since all national forest campgrounds within 300 miles of us are closed we elected to head to Death Valley. Caught a break in weather which allowed us to drive over Donner Pass and down US 395. Was snowy but roads were dry. We spent 4 days exploring the area with temps in 60’s, some rain storms in valley gave new experiences. And driving to the 5475 ft top of Dantes’ View in SE area gave us a wonderful perspective on the valley.
April – Had to get out somewhere so we headed back over to the eastern sierra for boon-docking in the Alabama Hills near Mt Whitney south of Bishop California. Biking the dusty trails and hiking for a few nights. This is where many old western movies were filmed back in 30’-50’s
May – One place Sraddha has always wanted to explore is the San Rafael Swell in central Utah. With features like the “Little Grand Canyon, Slot canyons and majestic geologic views. Most people head to the amazing national parks which we have done several times. This is less traveled and we had the place to ourselves much of the time. Trail cycling here was a lot of fun. We explored Goblin Valley, Temple Mountain, Swinging Bridge, Lake Powell, and Valley of the Gods.
Early June – finally the sierra opens up to camping so I went up to Lakes Basin for a few quiet days alone hiking and cycling. Explored some new trails and just hung out.
Late June/July – Colorado beckons. We had planned to meet Sraddhas family in Pagosa Springs for few days of fun. Our route took us across central utah and thru the Rockies to Lost Lake above Crested Butte, Colorado for a few days then winding down thru central Rockies to Pagosa Springs. Return trip thru Moab.
July/August – Wildfires and smoke caused cancellation of a couple trips into the sierra but finally the smoke cleared and we were able to get up to one of our favorite places near Tahoe and also went to Sea Ranch on California Coast for a few days of cycling and hiking.
August-September – Smoke again changed our plans. Originally scheduled to spend a week in Tetons then Idaho and on over to Puget Sound, we canceled the eastern part of trip and spontaneously headed up the Oregon and Washington coast for a real fun time. It is getting harder to find great places to camp on short notice but we lucked into some wonderful places along the coast including the Hoh River Rainforest campground. We stayed with friends over the weekend in Portland area and also visited the Ananda farm up on Camano Island (where we plan to return in the spring to help with planting a “cutting flower garden”. Camping on a city street in Edmonds at my cousin’s place is always fun. Great neighborhood there. We returned via Cape Disappointment SP at the mouth of Columbia river , Nehalem Bay, Umpqua Lighthouse and Bullards beach near Brandon.
October – Our last trip of the year was the most challenging. Our route took us down eastern sierra for a few days then on to Usery Park in Mesa, AZ where i would then fly to Atlanta for a few days of model railroading with some buddies whilst Sraddha explores museums in the Valley of Sun then on to Catalina State Park in Tucson before heading back home.
En route thru Nevada we stopped for propane. A couple days later, while camped at 9500 ft elevation, we started having issues with the propane system. We ended up cutting our eastern sierra travels short and headed to Las Vegas for repairs. The Van City service center took us in and diagnosed the problem to be bad propane. We ended up spending 3 day in Valley of Fire State Park to bleed out and empty the propane tank and 2 nights at a KOA near a casino in Vegas. A very different experience than was planned but much, but not all of the problem was solved. Still intermittent issues but we soldiered onto Mesa with our plans having set up a return visit to Van CIty for a couple other repairs we needed on Mightee Wonder Van.
This year has been a blessing. When we bought the van back in late 2019, we figure to continue travels as long as one of us has a valid drivers license. Didn’t anticipate the pandemic but we have found ways to safely travel and have fun.
I continue regularly with cycling, averaging about 60-70 miles per week mostly at elevation. We are blessed with good health, a safe community in which we live amongst good friends
Spoiler Alert – We are well and have been well all year.
WHAT A YEAR! For the past 276 days since Ananda Village went into “Self Isolation” due to the COVID19 pandemic it has been a bit of “rinse and repeat”. I began to keep a brief daily log on my iPad with some personal notes and task list, with some quotes I find and also stats of the pandemic. We have been doing the 5 safe practices when out in Public and our community, so far, has been spared…So far.
We did not let the pandemic stop us from traveling since we have our “travel-pod”. The Wonder van with self contained with toilet and shower so we were able to remain isolated and safe. Whenever we go shopping for groceries we wear the protective mask, glasses and gloves. It has allowed us to be out and feel safe. I spent much of the spring doing short videos of the Crystal Hermitage Gardens.
We made several trips this year in our “travel pod” called Mightee Wonder Van (MTV). Big Sur in January, Arizona in February then the COVID hit and all our plans for rest of year was cancelled! By mid March, our small community here is in self isolation. All programs cancelled, the guest retreats shut down, and a “New Normal” begins to take shape. We limit our trips only essential needs and wonder how long this will last.
We had campground reservations for about 11 weeks of travel all over the western US from SoCal to Utah to Idaho and Washington. All cancelled by the state and national parks.
The one which really bummed us out was our favorite spot up in Truckee. The Corps of Engineers decided to not open the campground at all! We had booked several trips there since we only live 90 minutes away. Well, there goes the summer! Well, we did get one long weekend camping trip up in the Sierra for some hiking.
We planted a garden. Initially, due to our travel plans, we were not going to do that but with the pandemic, we opened up the beds and have enjoyed a bounty all summer.
Chomping at the bit and tired of cabin fever we looked at the COVID map of the USA and determined we could make a trip out to Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota via a diagonal route across Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana then down thru South Dakota Badlands and back thru Colorado Rockies and Utah safely arriving home by end of June. We found some wonderful places to stay from Tetons National park to a little city park in North Dakota. We spoke only to 8 people the whole trip. A few campground hosts and neighbors and a couple grocery employees where we shopped. Most people were not yet wearing masks out in these areas, however we were very careful to keep our distance and wear masks. What a delightful trip.
July found us wondering when the next wildfire would begin. We didn’t have to wait long as California erupted in fire and smoke. We hunkered down thinking maybe we could escape in August back to the Rockies which we did. Except that we got seduced by a couple web cams in Ouray and Telluride which showed pretty clear air. So we headed east thinking we could find places to camp.
Not so fast! After spending a couple nights packed into an RV park with AC on for the heat and dodging people on the trails, we decided to pick up stakes and head north right thru the heavy smoke of central Colorado fires then into Wyoming where we spent 18 days in the Tetons. We delayed our return until the pending snow storm forced our hand at the end of Labor Day weekend and we headed home back to wildfire country.
Upon return we knew we had 3 months remaining in wildfire season. Our van became our “go bag”. We always had it stocked with our important papers, backup hard drives, food, water, fuel, ready on a moments notice to evacuate if needed. Our village had created and emergency radio system for alerts which i had spear headed. The radio sat next to our bedside at night in case of emergency. We had our generator ready to run when the Planned Power Shutoffs happen (and they did). Wildfire season officially was over late November this year here where we live. Still, the van serves as our backup overflow food storage and stands ready to head out on short notice.
We did one more trip in the fall, heading over to Bodega bay for a few days of cool ocean breezes and walking on the beach. What a welcome relief. We had planned a trip to Arizona for late October/November but again cancelled due to the pandemic. Still we managed to put 16,000 miles on the van since taking delivery last November back in Atlanta.
Now we enjoy the cooler, wetter days, remaining fairly quiet around the house, while active around our community, helping others in need of assistance. I cycle 60-80 miles per week to keep fit and we pray for rain and snow. Sraddha is back to cooking and baking so i have to keep cycling. Being introverts, we both enjoy the solitude and have found interesting books and streaming videos as part of our life. I wear my Seahawks jersey on Sundays in support of my team. Go Hawks!
We plan out next venture, knowing full well it may get cancelled, postponed, delayed and/or changed yet again. We have learned a lot about being flexible, understanding and respectful of others. It may be a while before we can again roam freely as we have in the past. Who knows?