Treasuring Every Moment of 2017

So long 2017. You’ve introduced me some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and taken me to new places only dreamed of. To kick it off, we marched in DC and have since “Marched Forth” for justice and action, locally and beyond. From the winter wonderland of Quebec City’s Carnival to winter fun in Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire at Loon Mountain as a volunteer coach for New England Disabled Sports, the crisp winter air and mountains embraced me and my friendships and community grew. In the middle of the long Northern New England winter, Bermuda invited me to experience their colorful, delightful, active tasty island “Beyond the Beach” Back from Bermuda a late season snow storm blanketed Maine as it welcomed and stranded my friend Bill Johnson just back from Cambodia, “a bit too soon” he said after I shoveled him out of his front door in South Portland order to open the front door.

Springtime came early as I headed south for an Easter visit with family and friends at Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky. A vast variety of wildflowers were in bloom; Trillium (white and red), Dwarf Iris, Blue Phlox, Pennywort, Showy Orchids, Wild Geraniums, and many others. A late April spring Adventure Marketplace weekend tour to New York City, gave a small group from Southern Maine Health Care the opportunity to kick up their heels for Kinky Boots on Broadway.

If April brings wildflowers and Kinky Boots, May brought birthdays, house music concerts and another small Adventure Marketplace group to Africa to experience the wonder and contrast of Namibia and Botswana. Our journey began in Namibia with stunning desert landscapes, and the towering sand dunes at Sossusvlei. From there heading westward through canyon passes we spent two days along the Namibian Coast. As the road stretched far into the horizon, we drove across the vast lands to Etosha National park and encountered many species of wild animals roaming freely. Entering Botswana offered us the opportunity to interact with the Koi San Bush people and spend two nights camping in the Kalahari bush. More game drives, an Okavango Delta scenic flight, a sunset cruise on the magnificent Chobe River left us longing for more. The journey gave me and my six travel companions an unforgettable experience… from the herds of elephants to the beautiful people, the African country of Botswana offered so much wonder as it celebrated 50 years of proud independence.

I’m sure we all understand the beauty of Maine in June, July and August and much of my summer was spent enjoying the local natural su

rroundings, tending to my community garden on Crescent Street and enjoying the colorful and delicious bounty of our efforts. Mix in some quality outdoor adventure time at friends’ camps, the Tall Ships in Casco Bay, camping at Thomas Point Beach, the new rooftop at Bayside Bowl, The North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, hosting Warmshower biking guests and hearing tales of their rides across continents and a week on Star Island off the coast of Portsmouth all left me feeling blessed.

Autumn began with an Adventure Marketplace small group tour (off the beaten path) Icelandic journey in early September in search of Iceland’s “hidden people”. A seemingly endless vastness of glaciers, mountains, whales and hot springs, the Icelandic land is rich in history, outlaws, mystery, sheep, horses, beauty and intrigue.

Back to New England, I embraced the colors, foliage and flavors of New England with hikes in the Whites, a weekend retreat at Baxter State Park and into Grand Falls hut with a hearty group of MOACers (Maine Outdoor Adventure Club). Guests from away, an invitation to Colombia (see last month’s story for more on the emerging South American country), another jaunt to NYC during the Hap-happiest time of the year to see the high kicking Rockettes, an early Christmas in Ohio and Michigan with my family and extensive family extensions and again I’m blessed.

Now as I reflect, 2017 has been quite a year and did I say I am grateful, and blessed. The year has been full of adventure and also full of emotions… I have cried for those I know and love that are sick and recently departed. I’m praying for peace, strength and like Carole King I’m going to do my best to “wake up every morning, put a smile on my face and show the world…all the love in my heart”

Happy New Year – Take good care of yourselves and Treasure every moment.