What a year indeed! For the most part, 2019 was a wonderful year of me living my best life. I started the year with family and friends and ended it with friends.
I first thought about blogging a few years ago, but kept pushing the thought aside. I finally committed to the blog in March, spurred on by a promise I made to my students to blog while they journalled during our Greece trip. After my first few posts, I decided to try to post at least once per week. That ambitious plan did not quite materialize, but at blog 27, I think I’m close enough. I also took about a month off to write a journal article, so I’ll give myself a break 😊.
In 2019 I travelled for pleasure, bleisure, and work; alone, with friends, with colleagues, and with students; in state, out of state, and to other countries. My travels this year took me to Joshua Tree National Park (it’s over 160 miles away from home and I stayed overnight so it counts), Sacramento & the Bay Area, Yosemite, Santa Cruz, Tennessee, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, Boston, Greece, Japan, and saving the best for last, home to Barbados. I posted about most of my travels in this blog, so if you haven’t been following, go check them out 😁.
My birthday celebrations in the Bay Area included wine tasting, a visit to Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park, Louisiana cuisine, strolling through San Francisco, and hiking.
Hiking … Gotta Love It!
While I travelled several times for the year, I also spent a lot of time hiking. At the end of 2018, I decided that in 2019 I would complete the 52 Hike Challenge – Adventure Series. My first hike for the challenge was on the first Saturday of the year with my friends Tiffany and Jennetta. We did a short hike and helped with dune restoration at LAX Dunes. I had many other awesome hiking experiences this year – from hikes in ‘my backyard’, to hikes in other states, and other countries and best of all, hikes from my bucket list (Yosemite, Mammoth Cave, El Yunque). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hike in Bim, but I’ll make up for that next year. Most of my hikes were with friends, but I got to do a few with family 😊. It was hard to select just a few photos to highlight the hikes 😏, so you’ll have to review the other blog posts to see more.
My 52 hikes started in California in January (I reached the halfway point in Sacramento during my birthday week) and ended in Puerto Rico in August. However because I love the outdoors and I love to hike, 52 was just a number. By December, 52 was far in my rearview mirror and on the last day of 2019, I did my 77th hike with my friend and frequent hiking partner, Jennetta. It was a special hike because it was Jennetta’s final hike to complete the 52 Hike Challenge and she wanted to make it memorable. What better way to make it special than to conquer ‘The Beast’, a Santa Clarita trail of some repute, right in ‘my backyard’.
The Beast: Culmination of a Year’s Worth of Hikes
The Beast (Santa Clara Divide Road to Los Pinetos) was not as beastly as its name implies. Anecdotes suggests it is a difficult trail. Some trail sites rate it as intermediate to difficult. For Jennetta and I, it was not difficult, but moderate. The inclines are similar to other Santa Clarita trails we’ve done, like Towsley Canyon and Mentryville, but what The Beast has going for it, is that it’s a steady uphill from the start for about 4.5 miles to the peak. There aren’t many steep inclines, but there are few plateaus or downhills to break up the climb. It was also very windy as we hiked, with gusts so strong at times that our words got lost. The wind was also strong enough to knock one foot into the other as I walked.
The advantage of tackling The Beast in December is that we didn’t have to contend with the heat – that would certainly have made it beastly! On the last day of the year, the temperature was in the low to mid 50s – excellent for hiking. At around 9.7 miles (total in and out), around 2,100 ft elevation gain, beautiful views of awesome town and the snow on the mountains, it was a great hike to end 2019. And it was right in my back yard 😉.
With hike 77 done, I’m ready for 2020. I look forward to another year of frequent hiking. I’ll be doing the 52 Hike Challenge again, this time with 52 unique hikes, one of which will be the Colin Hudson Great Train Hike in Bim early in the year. I will travel periodically throughout the year because after all, tourism is my business. I anticipate going home, visiting Greece, Switzerland, The Bahamas, a few national parks, and wherever else the travel bug takes me responsibly. I plan to catch up friends, hang out with my family, meet some new people, stay healthy and fit, and keep doing my part to take care of our natural and cultural assets (and of course continue encouraging others to do the same). We die once, but live every day. So above all, in 2020 I’ll be living my Best life … living it like it’s golden, because it is. Live it with me, in person or through my blog 😁.