Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas 2015

A highlight of our year was the three weeks in July we spent in Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Tetons National Park.  We spent five or six days in each park doing lots of hiking, some epic.  In GNP: Many Glacier to Iceberg Lake, Highline to Granite Park Chalet to the Loop, Mt. Brown Lookout, among others.  In YNP: Mount Washburn, Avalanche Peak, Fairy Falls, Trout Lake, all the Hot Springs and Geyser trails, all Canyon South Rim to Point Sublime, among others.  In GTNP: Emma Matilda Lake, Amphitheater Lake, Cirque and Summit at the top of Jackson Hole Ski Area, Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake, among others.  We saw most of the major wildlife: bison, elk, moose, antelope, mule deer, whitetail deer, mountain goats, big horn sheep, grizzly bear, black bear, marmots and other small mammals (no wolf or mountain lion).  On Highline in GNP, Beth leading the hike rounded a tight corner and a mountain goat was right next to her.  Going around Jenny Lake Beth leading the hike suddenly stopped and started backing up.  Fifteen yards ahead was a black bear sow with two cubs.  Driving out west, around and back, we saw road-kill horse, open-range bison and cattle on the roads, drove over 9600’ passes.  We visited a Scandinavian museum, the geographical center of North America, Havre MT, Yaak MT, Sandpoint ID, Missoula and Lolo, Cody WY, Sheridan WY, Deer Haven Lodge near Ten Sleep WY, Devils Tower WY, the geographical center of the United States, Black Hills SD, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Wall Drug.  We took over two thousand photos.

In February we spent two weeks on Manasota Key near Englewood, Florida.  We have never done anything like that before.  Few days got to 70 degrees, so it was often cool on the beach.  We saw nice sunsets over the Gulf.  We got to walk barefoot in February.  We visited Sarasota, Siesta Key, Venice, Myakka State Park, Boca Grande, the Everglades. At Everglades we took a boat tour out among the Ten Thousand Islands Wildlife Refuge and saw dozens of porpoises up close porpoising right next to the hull.  At Shark Valley Visitor Center we did the tram tour and saw over 100 alligators.  Our return to Michigan happened to be on a day when major snow and ice storms were predicted for the next day.  So we made the 1320 mile drive home in 18 hours.

The year began with my job status in limbo.  I was in a temporary position (Executive Project Director in Academic Affairs), subject to lay-off by the end of the year.  In May my temporary position was extended until the end of 2016, diminishing some anxiety.  By the end of September I was offered a permanent position as Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs.  That was a huge relief.  My role is something of a director of instruction for the entire college.  I make decisions about curricular and course issues, about faculty qualifications, about partnerships with other colleges and universities, about academic operations, policies and procedures.  I have made some long-overdue decisions that many (in advising, in financial aid, in the registrar’s office) have welcomed and appreciated.

Beth has grown into leadership for women at church.  She is a mentor for the Mothers of Preschoolers group.  She participates in a women’s bible study.  She is very well-regarded at church.  I am very proud of her.  Her leadership style is quiet, subtle, non-intrusive.  I think that is part of why she is so well-regarded.  And she is very smart and very wise.  She rode her bicycle much this year, perhaps close to 3000 miles.  She now has three bicycles; she just got a new classic-styled bike she calls her Mackinac Island bike.  She and my sister would like to have a permanent summer home on Mackinac Island and grow a vegetable and flower garden together, ride bikes, eat good food, read many books.

Jayne is moving back in with us.  She has firm plans to enroll in an Aviation Technology program through Lansing Community College, beginning Fall 2016.  She wants to save money to pay for the program.  It is a two year program that gets you associate degrees and prepares you to pass FAA exams on airframe maintenance and powerplant maintenance.  Students are in class five days a week six hours a day year around for two years.  Most students in the programs have job offers before completing the program.  Already having a bachelor’s degree, Jayne should be in a very good position to get meaningful and rewarding employment.  We are proud of her.

Kevin and Marissa love each other and love Minneapolis.  Kevin started working this fall for Wells Fargo, promoting mortgage investing to WF investment officers.  Some of Michigan is part of his region, and we are hoping he gets some business trips our direction.

Life is so full of unexpected events, unwelcome changes.  We are survivors.  We love each other very much.  We hope this season deepens your love for those close to you.