Just when we thought 2021 was done lighting dumpster fires, raining COVID and murdering joy, it took Betty White from us. Here’s what I didn’t hate about this shit storm of a year:
RUNNING RACES. I did a handful of virtual running challenges in 2020, and while they definitely helped me survive the chaos of that year, nothing beats the excited anxiety of an in-person start line. I didn’t set any new records this year or even run any new races, but it was nice to show up again for a few old favorites.
THE APOLOGY LINE. If you could call a number and say you’re sorry – for anything – what would you apologize for? That’s a thing that used to exist, in the days before cell phones and caller ID, and this is a podcast about that line and the man who ran it.
MY YETI MUG. Look, we all have a few basic bitch tendencies and loving this stupid mug is one of mine. I will say it makes a real awful racket when you drop it on concrete at your campsite at 6:27 a.m. Don’t do that.
TURNING 37 IN A NATIONAL PARK. I turned 36 the day the world shut down, March 12, 2020, and I needed 37 to be different. Fully vaxxed, I headed west, to Tucson, gorged myself on Sonoran dogs and spent a few days hiking in Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument & Chiricahua National Monument.
VACCINES. I’m a left-brained lizard, a feelings-driven creature and sometimes science is hard. The choice to get vaccinated wasn’t though, and by the time 2021 came to a close, I was triple vaccinated.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. I tried and failed to escape my grief here, but it was still a magical place. I saw so many critter friends, including seven bears and one rowdy wolf. [More here: Part I & Part II]
MY KITCHEN RENOVATION. I got real brave in 2021 and ripped out my old, boring & brown kitchen and replaced it with one I am now very much in love with. I did almost all the work myself, with the exception of a little electrical and plumbing, and it’s maybe my greatest creation.
OTTERS, ICEFIELDS & PUFFINS AT KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK. Hiking to the edge of Harding Icefield was a highlight of my Alaskan adventure, as were the puffins and sea otters who hammed it up during my wildlife cruise.
GAIA GPS. When I’m scampering, this is the app I’m using to navigate, along with an actual map, depending on where I am and where I’m going. I know everyone loves their AllTrails, but that app is a piece of shit that has tried to lead me off mountains. I’ve used Gaia all over the U.S. and it has yet to lead me into harm’s way.
STOCK TANK POOL. In what proved to be a very mild summer, I bought an 8′ diameter stock tank and made myself a redneck pool. I didn’t spend nearly as much time in it as I’d wanted to, but it made for excellent foot soaking when it wasn’t hot enough to go all in.
BEING MAULED BY SLED DOG PUPPIES. If you want to experience true joy, go to Black Spruce Dog Sledding when there’s a pack of puppies to play with. Take a walk with them. Let them chew your water bottle. Let them smother you in kisses. You will not regret it.
THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS by Stephen Graham Jones. This is the book I kept thinking about long after I’d finishe it. It is, in the most simple of ways, a book about revenge.
SOLO TRAVEL. This year reminded me again how much I love solo travel. When I’m exploring National Parks, I almost always want to be alone. That’s not to say I don’t want to travel with others, it just means the trips I take with others will be oriented differently than the trips I take alone.
THE NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD. At some point in 2020, I decided I wanted to be a person who does crossword puzzles. By the end of 2021, completing the NYT crossword became a daily ritual.
SKY KITTENS. In what was a very dramatic and pitiful week, it rained kittens at my house. It’s a long a tedious story, one I’ll probably tell someday, but I kept one. The little mustached one there on the left. His name is Edgar Poe Moose-Stache Gatti, or Eddie for short.
MOLESKIN WEEKLY PLANNER. I understand we live in the future, but I still like writing things on paper.
THE PETS. I only had Sadie for part of the year, I had to say goodbye in June, but I’m thankful for the more than 13 years I did get with her, and the continued presence of my sweet Luke and the rage-filled cat called Bitty. She’s sweet when she wants to be. Really.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK. It’d been five years since I’d seen Texas. I was long overdue. Far West Texas is a magical land.
LETTING PEOPLE IN THE HOUSE. 2021 saw the return of eating Thanksgiving dinner inside the house, weekly hangs with local friends and quarterly hangs with the ones who live farther away.
OLD FRIENDS & NEW STRANGERS. I’m lucky enough to have a handful of incredible friends who hold me up when I can’t. They showed up for me in big ways in 2021. In traveling, I also met a lot of impactful strangers. From Alaska to Texas and many points in between, I’m thankful for the small talk that got big, for chats over beers and bourbons and coffees in cities that weren’t my own.