What's been going on since June 2020?
Click on the eye to see most recent photo gallery and comments. Updates in progress.
Following the Kidney Walk 2020 on June 14th, I continued to volunteer as a Starter/Ranger at Meadowood golf course and picked up a few marketing studies for the Cleveland Metro Parks. Still no return date for Ohio Veterans Home volunteers.
Since my brother Ted retired in August of last year, we have begun playing golf together at least once most every week. I prefer not to play between November and April regardless of the temps because the course conditions are usually bad. We have picked up the pace this summer and take turns playing in metro park courses and our home/volunteer courses.
I decided not to try and continue my return tour of major league ballparks with the pandemic restrictions and health risks not worth it. So glad that I finished my primary goal last year in 2019. No telling if/when I will get on that road again.
Golf and hiking/walking seemed to dominate the time until suddenly it was October. Kathy flew out to help Michelle close down her rental home and pack up a trailer to bring home her belongings. Just a few months before that, Kathy was out there to help our son Tony move back to Ohio as well. Michelle moved into our home and Tony with his Dad and Step Mom.
The holidays were very special this year will all the kids living in the area again. Kathy and I made an impromptu trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina leaving the day after Christmas and coming back the 2nd of January. We had a condo right on the beach. Temps were in the 50's during the day. Beach walks and restaurants as well as a long drive down to Rodanthe and Avon over an hour away from Nags Head. Saw the original home from the movie "Nights in Rodanthe" in its new location less than a mile from where it was closer to the water at the time of filming.
Winter months were spent mostly walking and plowing snow. We had more than average this year. We were not able to go to see our granddaughter Makayla play basketball this season as fans were limited to 2 per player. Instead we watched an internet feed of the games and then met up with the family for dinner in a nearby restaurant after each game. So much better live and in person but happy to see her on tv.
With many closures and reduced volunteer roles, the Cleveland Metro Park started a new "Clean Team", which I joined in November of 2020 and began to increase my hours after the holidays. The assignment is simply to walk trails in the parks and pick up any trash or debris that escaped one of the many refuse containers. Hours are up to each volunteer and tracked in their online system. You also record the number of bags you fill up to provide some metrics for analyzing park conditions and trends.
In late March, Kathy & I took a quick trip to Tellico, TN to meet with her brother and his girlfriend as they explored homes to move into. We stayed at a lodge in town and helped them decide that this wasn't the best deal for them. They have since found a home outside of Elizabethton, TN and have their own mountain top property. I hope to get down there before this year is over to check it out.
April Spring Break became our next road trip taking Makayla to Niagara Falls to visit the aquarium on the American side. Heading to high school in the fall, she has aspirations to become a marine biologist in her future. Great little road trip less than four hours from home. I always enjoy bringing somebody there for their first time seeing the falls. The American side has improved some and there was no border crossing.
May of 2021 now and Michelle has planned a nearly two week long road trip to Sedona, AZ to mountain bike and camp with a good friend of hers from Washington. She used our family car and I scheduled a trip to Albuquerque, NM the following week so that I could meet her there and travel together to see a long time friend. He moved out near Taos, NM over 20 years ago and while we communicated a few times, it was not anything regular and we hadn't seen each other either.
Michelle and I met up with Bob and his wife Julianna in a small town called Abiquiu. It was great catching up and rehashing some old times too. They own a farm and shelter for stray dogs. Bob is a well known artist in Taos and works with severely handicapped children as his everyday job. He was part of the original group of guys starting the MLB stadium tours back in 1972. It was so amazing to hang out with them and my daughter and Julianna hit it off immediately. Military and camping experience was a common ground and the Native Indian heritage and history was very interesting. Have to go back soon!
After the visit, Julianna gave us a scenic route to Moab, UT and we drove into the New Mexico interior of native grounds and multi-colored rock formations that are every where you look. We then drove into Arches National Park that night after dark to see the most populated starry sky you could imagine. The next day it was too crowded to get in so we drove around the perimeter of the park and connected up with I70 East for a drive thru the Rocky Mountains. Michelle drove that and I held the handles most of the time.
Staying overnight just east of Denver we still had 20 hours of driving to go and we planned to get a room west of St Louis. Somewhere along the way that day, we decided we should go for it and make the drive straight thru. Losing two hours of clock time going eastward, we arrived back in Avon at 5:30am.
Come June 13th and we are participating in our third straight National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk. Once again it is a virtual fund raiser. Kathy, Michelle and I drove out to South Chagrin Reservation in the CLE Metro Parks and hiked the Henry Church Rock loop trail (5k) starting on the upper rim and descending down some 300+ feet to the Chagrin River below. Rock carvings date back to 1885 where a town blacksmith would hike down to the river and create his art.
On July 5th, Kathy & I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with a four day trip down to the Salt Fork Lodge. Just a couple hour drive, we enjoyed the hiking trails, beach area, golf course, pool and restaurant. We rented a small cabin near the lake and were just around the corner from the lodge. Temps in the high 90's were much like they were this same week in 1991 when we tied the knot.
Thank you Kathy for hanging tough with me through the ups and downs of all these years. It has been an amazing ride and I look forward to you joining the ranks of the retired in August of 2022, if not sooner!
Also in July, my brother and I played golf in our first high school annual outing. It is played in Ryder Cup format with West Tech alumni versus a collection of friends, co-workers and other family members. We played well together but were up against veteran match opponents who played in all of the over 20 outings to date. Good news was our team won the competition even though we lost our match.
Never having played for any team sport in high school other than intramural and gym class, it was an honor to wear a "Warrior" shirt for the first time, and celebrate with many of the athletes we knew growing up and played with on the local playgrounds back in their "glory days".
Since then it has been a full schedule of walks, hikes, volunteering, golf, yardwork and family dinners. I manage to spend time with the grandkids, see them play sports and take them to the metro parks. This year we went to the driving range and next summer I hope to have them out on the golf course.
I have managed to stay in good health since my allergy bout in 2019 and continue my 15k/day step count for now the third year in a row. Hopefully, enough sun, exercise and eating healthier will keep me going.
Last weekend I attended my high school reunion. It was postponed last year and became 50+1. There were less than 100 classmates from 624 that were able to make it to the party. It turned out to be an enjoyable evening and I was able to connect with several friends I had not seen for some time.
Today, as I publish these updates, I am humble and thankful for all the family and friends in my life, as I honor and celebrate my sister Carol, who graciously received my kidney on October 12, 1976.
Oddly enough, it was also a Tuesday some 45 years ago!