New Year. New Adventures.

My New Year got off to a rough start. I awoke New Year’s Eve morning very sick with a fever, aches, dizziness, and overall misery. I quickly contacted my friends to let them know the party I had planned on hosting that night had to be canceled. I spent the next three days in bed before going back to work where I soon realized I had overestimated my readiness for such a move and had to spend the next day back in bed again. By the following week, things had improved a lot and I found my way back into the normal groove of things.

On January 12th I bought a car. Wow, do they know how to suck the joy out of that experience! I hadn’t planned on buying a car that day, mainly because they didn’t have any Kia Soul’s on the lot that had the options I wanted but I did want to use the opportunity to test drive a car to see if a Soul was even something remotely close to what I needed. Mainly, heated seats and a sunroof is what was missing from the model I test drove. They couldn’t do anything about the sunroof but they did offer to install heated seats so I decided if they could give the vehicle to me at the price I had in mind, I would buy it. After 3-hours of haggling, we finally came to an agreement and I drove home my new Soul that night.

My new Soul

The next day, I awoke eager to take advantage of the sunny weather and ventured out with a friend to Cathedral Park with our dogs. We walked around, enjoyed the scenery while the dogs sniffed and marked everything within reach. I brought my camera, of course, and also captured some images from around the park, which never fails to offer something interesting to observe. The bridge which creates the cathedral in the park’s namesake truly never gets old to stare at making it one of the few parks I continue to go back to time and time again.

The following weekend, Cole and I took advantage of the dry weather and did our first mini-road trip to hike at Battle Ground Lake State Park in Washington. We hiked the lower loop around the park and had a quiet, pleasant time. We ran into one other solo-photographer catching some snapshots of the birds on the lake. The sun made a few appearances and we even ran into another dog at one point which Cole enjoyed engaging in a short-lived game of chase.

Cathedral Park, Portland

I met with my urologist in January to review the results of my first CT scan and blood work post-kidney-cancer surgery. All looks well and I won’t need any follow up testing for another year. Each year for the next five years, they’ll need to repeat the CT scan, chest x-ray, and blood work at which point I’ll be done with all the cancer nonsense and can rest assured that I’m officially well. My type of cancer only has a 2% chance of returning so the odds are in my favor that things are going to be just fine.

Cole and I went to Moulton Falls State Park at the end of January. I was feeling a bit run down so we didn’t complete the intended hike from Moulton Falls to Lucia Falls but we did manage to see a lot of cool things along the way such as a tall bridge over the river, we scrambled some rocks, and watched a fog roll in and envelop the surrounding landscape. The next day, I realized I was sick again, which lasted approximately one week and made the sluggishness I was feeling the day before make more sense. Luckily, it wasn’t quite as bad as what I got the first week of January so I was able to work through it without too much interruption of my normal life.

Lucia Falls State Park

In early February, Cole and I went to the Coast. The trip was all about art, friends, and relaxing. I toured the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Otis, visited the Freed Gallery, the Lincoln City Cultural Center, and finally the Artist’s Coop in Lincoln City. I met up with a friend in Newport for lunch and after catching up with her, I stopped in and spent a couple hours visiting with a former colleague and his wife who retired a couple of years ago in their lake home. I cashed in some travel points and booked a King, ocean-view room with a hot tub at the Inn at Lincoln City. I wandered across the street to treat myself to delicious crab cakes and shrimp dinner at Kyllo’s. In the morning, Cole and I went for a long walk on the beach, outran a sneaker wave, and chatted with a local woman walking her dog for a bit. After checking out of the room, we drove north along the 101 until we got to Wheeler, before heading back toward Portland by way of Highway 53 and 26.

Overall, I’m super happy to have a car again. Each weekend has been a new adventure and there are more in the works coming up. It’s clear to me now that while financially it was worthwhile to have gone without a car for a year, emotionally it was not worth it. It proved to me how important regular access to nature is for my well-being so I plan to make that a priority again this year by exploring more of the places on my bucket list.

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