On December 31st it's required by law to reflect on the happenings since January 1st. But since this New Year's Eve is special -- out with the 2000s and in with the 2010s and all that -- let's reflect on the decade in its entirety, shall we?
On January 11, 2001, Mistah and I set off on an adventure we thought would last a year or so . . .
We'd already rented out our house in Fairfield, Connecticut, so we took off from my parents' house in Norwalk. The world was covered in snow. I slipped, naturally, and bashed my forearm on the Westy, and started our Big Adventure with a big bump and bruise . . .
. . . but 5 days later, when we arrived in Key West, I cared not the least.
We stayed in the Florida Keys for months. We met people who took us out on their boats and taught us to fish and with whom we camped and cooked and became lifelong friends. With them and with the Keys. And nothing, frankly, has ever been the same.
2002. The Anza-Borrego Desert, southern California. Hey, this is a highlight reel. We got around.
And after our first loop of the country, we were back in Connecticut, with my sister Julie's kids -- and Jacquie's baby -- at my Mom and Dad's, in the summer of 2002.
We spent the winter of 2003 in Mexico's Baja Peninsula south of San Diego.
The Westy and wide open spaces. Two of my favorite things.
We headed east quickly that spring, though -- through the Mojave Desert . . .
. . . with a stop on the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon -- on the south side, in Hualapai Indian Territory -- and quickly eastward back to Connecticut . . .
. . . because somebody needed a kidney. And I had one to spare.
March 2004. The Sonoran Desert, south of Why, Arizona. One of our favorite spots. This was our front yard . . .
. . . and this was our back.
Oh, we spent tons of time with these hooligans during our years on the road. We were in San Diego in April 2004 . . .
. . . and in Fort Davis, Texas, in May 2004, where we bought this sweet little house . . .
. . . and in August 2004 my whole family got together in Phelps, Wisconsin for a week of eating, drinking, water skiing and frivolity. Because that's what we do.
March 2005, we were back in Fort Davis, for a full-moon-rising hike in the Davis Mountains . . .
. . . and a visit from the Mumsie. Who loved it.
June 2005. The Westy can find the cool camping spots, she really can. Look at her in Canyonlands, back in Utah. Happy.
That same month we were in Chicago with my sister Jane and her family, heading east. Hey, we make a lot of loops. And we tend to return to our favorite spots, again and again:
Take 2006. The Florida Keys in the Winter . . .
. . . Asheville, North Carolina in the springtime . . .
. . . the Dutch Tavern in New London, Connecticut, always, constantly, but in this case, in October . . .
. . . north central Florida in November: Florida's central ridge (where there are hills. In Florida) . . .
. . . and back to the Keys in the winter. Our beloved Florida Keys. I love no place on earth quite like I love Bahia Honda State Park. Talk about touchstones. 2006 was filled with them.
We spent the winter of 2007 at Bahia Honda . . .
. . . before we landed in Fort Davis again, in the spring of 2007 . . .
. . . and continued west. Oh, hello Mistah!
It's hard to cull highlight photos from 18 million thousand choices. I tried to choose photos that depicted the Westy and the peeps in the places, but some photos made it for their sheer beauty. Like this one. I love this photo. Of southwestern Arizona, on our way west . . .
. . . back to San Diego. The Fourth of July in Mission Bay. Now that's a party.
And in the summer of 2007, another trip up the West Coast. The Westy is NOT cowed by the gigantic trees; she communes with them.
Nevada. As a native New Englander I didn't used to think too much about Nevada, but I do now . . .
. . . Nevada made for a great ride east in the fall of 2007.
And in the early winter of 2008, my parents came to Fort Davis! The peeps, they love Fort Davis.
The Anza-Borrego Desert again, in April 2008, at night . . .
. . . and into those iconic, iconoclastic saguaro fields of southern Arizona . . .
After our Motel 6 debacle in Nogales, Arizona in April 2008 . . .
. . . we busted out and headed south to lovely Patagonia, Arizona and to points east. . .
. . . specifically, to New London, Connecticut in May 2008, where we landed at the home we'd somehow bought through emails and online money-wiring . . .
. . . and so far, we're still here. Me and Mistah and Ledgie.
Augst 2009. Five years after Phelps, my family got together again. The Poconos wasn't just a highlight of the year, it was a highlight of the decade. I can hardly wait for 2014.
And New London? Our for-the-moment-home? The perfect place to end one decade, and start another.