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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking Back on 2012

I can't say I'm sorry to see the end of the year 2012, which saw the death of my father and the unplanned pregnancy of my teenage daughter. But the year saw several good things as well, and it is those on which I will dwell. I made a real effort to get out and do things I enjoy and visit new places, and I did a lot of hiking and photography.

In June, my daughter and I visited Sedona and the Grand Canyon. We spent a day at the Grand Canyon last December, so it was nice to return in warmer weather. It was a short trip, but one that motivated me to return to Sedona next year for hiking and photography. Sedona's red rocks are beautiful beyond words. I also hiked 1-1/2 miles down into the Grand Canyon (and back up), something I had never done before.

In the spring, a friend and I visited the lovely Monastery of Christ in the Desert, near Abiquiu. It is very isolated and quiet, and set among some of New Mexico's beautiful red rocks.

In July, my daughter and I spent six days in London, followed by a couple of weeks visiting Russia, her birthplace. We went to Moscow, where I used to live, followed by a trip to Tyumen' and Berkut in western Siberia, and finally to St. Petersburg. While in Berkut, we spent several hours with the former director of her orphanage and were treated to a Russian lunch in her honor.
Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

One of the Kremlin Churches and Ivan the Terrible bell tower.

Catherine Palace

Mesa Verde's Cliff Palace
I went hiking to several places I had not visited before: Mesa Verde National Park in southern Colorado, and Arches and Canyonlands national parks in Utah. I also took my very first rafting trip, on the Colorado River, which was a lot of fun. What a treat it was to stay in the Red Cliffs Lodge, on the Colorado River and among towering red rocks a few miles from Moab, Utah.
Colorado River near Moab, UT

Death Valley's Zabriskie Point

A month later, I went hiking in Death Valley. It isn't a place I want to visit again, but I am glad I got to see it. Even in October, it was quite hot. It is much rockier than I had expected.

My daughter and I spent a late-autumn weekend in Durango, CO, riding the narrow gauge steam train from Durango to the old mining town of Silverton. The train chugged along through lovely aspens and along a sparkling river, stopping a couple of times to take on water. When we reached Silverton, we stopped for lunch and explored the town.

I continued my weekly volunteer work at St. Felix Pantry, and my daughter and I helped at the pantry's annual free community dinner on Thanksgiving Day. I also continued volunteering with Wanagi Wolf Rescue, which said a sad good-bye to Silver Bear and welcomed new wolf O-tai-oni. I even volunteered to work a couple of shifts at a low-cost spay/neuter clinic sponsored by the Santa Fe Humane Society and by New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better.

Aztec Ruins
I enjoyed some local events as well. I went with a friend to a sunflower festival, an Indian market at the nearby Santo Domingo pueblo and to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, where I bought an amazing Navajo rug. I also visited the ancient ruins at Chaco Canyon, Pecos National Historical Park and Aztec Ruins in northwestern New Mexico (which have nothing to do with the Aztecs).

I also made four trips to the Chicago area, two by car and two by air, all related to my father's illness and death.

In November, after three years of writing and editing, I finished my book about the challenges and joys of raising an adopted child. It will be available through in early 2013. Formatting is now complete, and a cover has been designed. I am looking forward to finally seeing my book in print after such a long time.

For 2013, my daughter and I have tickets to a Carrie Underwood concert in early March, and we hope to return to see Celine Dion perform in Las Vegas again. I have made reservations for a hiking trip in Turkey in May, and one in Yosemite National Park in September.

I am hopeful that 2013 will be a good year for everyone, that it will bring greater peace and compromise in the world, and greater respect for our environment and the animals struggling to share the world with us.