I hope the holiday season finds you hale and hearty. Needless to say it’s been an unusual and challenging year for everyone. But in the midst of all the turmoil, I am thankful for all the blessings and good times 2021 brought as well. I treasure the memories of four in particular.
First was the unexpected opportunity to spend so much time with my little sweetheart granddaughter Aly in Denver. Like many grandparents, daycare duty called me in the fall of 2020 and continued until June. I was so lucky to get to spend two days a week together with Aly in what she called “grandpa days.” There was a lot of playground and trampoline time, hiking, playing games, and of course sessions with Barbie and Ken dolls before and after her afternoon preschool.
Then when her school summer break began in June she got to spend a week with me in the mountains at my cabin, just the two of us. The trip started with a visit to a “haunted” ranch house in a state park on the way followed by a dip in a local outdoor hot springs, one of her favorite things to do. The next day she showed off her angling skills catching three trout at a nearby lake which was followed up with a trek to the alligator farm/reptile recovery center just over the mountain pass in the San Luis Valley.
There she fed the big tortoises and held an alligator (a little one) with Grandpa for a quick pix. After the gator caper we splashed around in the warm shallow creek flowing through Great Sand Dunes National Park.
To top off each day Aly choreographed a marshmallow roast. In between adventures we frolicked around in the little creek that flows by the cabin and put together new Lego sets from the local toy store.
After the aspen leaves began to fall, I decided it was time to take the road home to Kansas where I hadn’t visited for almost two years. On the way, I stayed with my old fraternity roommate one night and traded stories of our college hijinks. Then it was on to my little hometown of Buhler, a Mennonite farming community. There I got to see my cousins, one of whom is the last farmer in the family, drive by the house I was raised in, tend to the family plot, and stopover at the old farmstead few miles outside of town. The highlight was a visit to the Mennonite farm museum in a nearby town where I stopped in to see the old 1934 Ford V8 wheat truck I drove as a kid in the ‘60s during harvest. It’s pictured on the card. I had the truck renovated back in the ‘90s and donated it to the museum. I was so happy to see it in great shape, still running, and being used in museum events. The museum director told me it was her favorite display.
The grand finale of the year was a week-long trip with my son Matthew, Aly, and Grandma Jan to visit my son Ben and his wife Sara in their wonderful new digs in Las Vegas. It was a great family gathering. We had a tasty Thanksgiving dinner followed by a trip to the Strip to see the fabulous Christmas decorations at the Bellagio. We walked off some of the calories the next day with a hike in the stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. What a treat to explore this beautiful desert landscape and spend so much time with the entire family.
In between these memorable times, I continued to write for angling magazines like American Fly Fishing and Florida Sportsman, publishing several articles including one entitled “Insect Armageddon” that chronicled the threats to aquatic insects and trout brought about by climate change. https://hooknfly.com/2021/03/04/anglers-it-better-bug-you-the-coming-insect-armageddon/
I also enjoyed speaking to three dozen judges at a National Judicial College conference in California on land use and environmental law. My blog “hooknfly.com” continued to be rewarding, connecting me with new friends and readers across the USA and around the globe.
I’ll be heading to Florida in January for the season and am looking forward to 2022 with great hopes for all mankind. Wishing you a peaceful holiday and the best for the New Year.