PUBLISHED: Dec. 31, 2017
It’s just a new page on the calendar, but the transition from one year to another also is a moment full of possibility.
If the year ending was disappointing, it feels good to put it in the books. If the year was rewarding, pausing to remember the high points also feels good. I’ve heard of a tradition of writing the year’s disappointments on small pieces of paper and then, literally, setting fire to your burdens in a celebratory New Year’s Eve blaze. I haven’t yet done that, but I like the idea.
Standing on the threshold of a brand-new year, the 12 months ahead are as full of promise as they will ever be. The slate is clean. Goals can be set. And tackled fresh. Even so, this post is more of a year in review as we put 2017 to bed.
As years go, the one that just wrapped gave me some great memories to hang on to.
Starting with a couple of special weddings.
On March 18, one half of the best twins I know married a fine young man in Donovan Lankford and became Kasie Phelps Lankford.
The wedding was more than a milestone.
It also was beautiful.
And fabulous. Perfect.
In every way.
Then, almost exactly seven months later, the twins’ cousin, Austin Hendrick, married the lovely Melissa Bradley on October 15.
Another beautiful family wedding.
Another lakeside outdoor ceremony.
Another happy time to see a happy couple officially begin their lives together.
In the case of both weddings, the vows were being said by special people I’ve known since they were babies–or little more than babies.
You don’t often get two such happy occasions in one year.
We also got to catch up with some of our oldest and dearest friends, Rich and Lisa Richardson, when we met in Cincinnati in June for a Reds game (it was a forgettable game in another forgettable season).
It tells you something about the state of the Reds that we chose to visit the local art museum rather than go to a second game. We enjoyed clowning around more than usual.
Meeting in Cincinnati came the day after a night in Louisville for our latest experience at a U2 concert: the 2017 tour for the 30th Anniversary of The Joshua Tree.
We also got to see the great Tom Petty again in Nashville in April. He was touring to mark his band’s 40th anniversary and, sadly, it turned out to be his final tour. Tom died too soon in October.
There were a few — much fewer than usual — local hiking outings with the usual suspects, but the ones that happened were high in quality if not quantity.
My single most-memorable day in the Great Smoky Mountains in 2017, though, may have been the Solar Eclipse of Aug. 21. Bill and I were joined by new friends and fellow hikers, Jennifer, Hannah and William, and we all learned the astronomical meaning of “totality” as we watched Cades Cove go dark at 2 in the afternoon.
Time-lapse of daylight to dark and back again:
At the end of Solar Eclipse week, Bill and I headed off to vacation in Colorado. Our latest national park excursion was to Rocky Mountain National Park, by way of Breckenridge for a few days at first, followed by Great Sand Dunes after, and a Colorado Rockies game in between.
Breckenridge is at 10,000′ elevation, and Bill came down with altitude sickness our first night there. After a midnight trip to the local E.R. which sent us away with an oxygen tank, we were good to go for the rest of our time there and in Colorado (we didn’t need the oxygen after Breck).
RMNP and Estes Park were perfect. Now, for a palate-cleansing visit to Coors Field.
Day trip to Great Sand Dunes.
Final Colorado stunner: Garden of the Gods
Back at work, October brought the 100th anniversary of continuous publication of Tennessee Alumnus magazine. One of those times you feel lucky to be one of the caretakers of the moment.
In November, the Vols hosted LSU on Rocky Top, and that turned out to be a great excuse for us to host my dear cousin, Karen, and her sweet husband, Matt, and two of their three boys, Morgan and Dustin, all up from just outside New Orleans to go to the game.
We had a blast sharing a mountain cabin, watching the sun set at Clingmans Dome, and endured a literal storm blast at Neyland Stadium. The time we got to spend with them is definitely one of my 2017 highlights, and I’m hoping we’ll find opportunity to do so again soon.
Work did not go into the typical year-end slowdown in 2017, but that would be another entire blog post. Thanksgiving and Christmas finally came, and I savored every minute of down time, friends and family gatherings, extra sleep, and celebrations of the season.
I’m thankful for a good team on the job. I’m excited about what we’ll get to tackle in 2018. And about where Bill and I may get to go on our travels. I’ll keep you posted. 😉