2017 in Review… What a Year!

Heading off into the wilderness on one of my five backpacking trips in 2017.


I always approach the new year in a reflective mood that is divided between looking back and looking forward. This past year has been a tough one for the US, one of the toughest that I can remember. The turmoil has made me want to run off to the ocean, or the mountains, or the desert, or the rainforests— anywhere that the constant blare of modern media and Washington tweets is missing or limited. But then, I always want to run off to the mountains, the ocean and the desert. The wilderness serves as a second home for me— a place to think, a place to heal, and a place to play.

Living out in the woods, as Peggy and I do, also helps!

Sunset view from Mekemson patio on Upper Applegate River

A view of the sun setting in the west from our patio reminds me of beauty in our world, but also of the million-plus acres of forest lands and wilderness that surround us.

Applegate River

The Applegate River that runs in front of our house is quiet and peaceful in the summer, but can become a raging torrent in the winter. It is beautiful in all conditions, and the sound of its flowing waters always soothes.

Madrone tree in Mekemson back yard

Nothing marks the change of time like the changing of seasons. This large madrone that lives in our backyard and provides coveted shade in the summer, shows its winter face here.

spring at home

In the spring, our world turns green. Over 100 white oaks provide homes for animals as well as shade. In fall, their acorns provide food for squirrels, deer, turkeys and bears.

Fall at home

Fall always adds its splash of color, as it does with this Big Leaf Maple.

Ground squirrel with attitude

The wildlife that considers our property home provides constant entertainment and education. This ground squirrel had just managed to steal a cheek full of sunflower seeds from the bird feeder and had zero tolerance for my lecture.

Squirrel on birdfeeder

And this grey squirrel is trying to repeat its success. “Let’s see, if I rock this thing hard enough…”

Blacktail deer in Mekemson yard on upper Applegate River

The local deer herd provides us with an inside view of their lives, from birth to death.  The herd has scattered now. Wisely so. There is a cougar hanging out on our property and in the national forest land behind us. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have seen its scat in our back yard— and it is full of deer hair!

Fawn on our property

The cougar will move on, however. The deer will return. And the does will bring their children by for visits, as they always do. Life in its endless cycles will repeat itself.

Given my desire to escape this past year, it’s not surprising that the majority of my posts have revolved around trips to the ocean, mountains and deserts. That and Burning Man, which may be the ultimate escape to an alternative universe. Here are some photos that reflect our travels in 2017.

I’ll start with the ocean which includes trips I made on my own and trips the two of us did. Altogether, we covered some 1000 miles of coast between Big Sur, California and Forks, Washington.

Big Sur Coast

In the spring I made my way down to the Big Sur/Carmel/Monterey area while Peggy was playing Grandmother. This is the Big Sur coast.

Iconic Big Sur Bridge

An iconic Big Sur Bridge.

Ocean on 17 Mile Drive

The coast along Monterey’s 17 Mile Drive.

Cypress on 17 Mile Drive

A Monterey Cypress located on one of several world-famous golf courses found along Monterey’s 17 Mile Drive.

Seal at Point Lobos

A contented seal I found at Point Lobos just south of Carmel.

Bigfoot rock at Bandon, Oregon

Peggy and I found this marvelous rock on the beach just south of Bandon, Oregon. Note the toes. They stood about as high as Peggy. I called it Bigfoot, of course.

Face Rock at bandon Beach

We were also impressed with what is known as Face Rock. You can see the chin, mouth, nose and eyes on the right.

Ocean trash fish at Bandon, Oregon

This marvelous fish sculpture in Bandon had been created out of trash collected along the local beach.

Seal Cave near Florence, Oregon

I found these seals located in Seal Cave just above Florence, Oregon.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

And the beautiful Heceta Head Lighthouse a couple of miles away.

Sea serpent at Rockaway Beach

Our trip before Christmas took us up to Rockaway Beach where we found a pair of rocks that reminded me of the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie.

Alpaca near Tillamook, Oregon

And this cutie near Tillamook.

Peggy Mekemson at Copalis Beach

We stayed at Copalis Beach in Washington where Peggy went for a walk on the beach at sunset.

The ultimate in escaping the noise and busyness of the world is backpacking. There are no phones, or TVs, or newspapers, or Internet.  Not surprising, I went out five times. Twice by myself, twice with Peggy, and once with Peggy, our daughter Tasha, and our two grandkids, Ethan and Cody. We backpacked in the Siskiyou Mountains near where we live and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of Sacramento, an area I have wandered in for 50 years.

Oregon stream

One of the streams we camped on in the Siskiyou Mountains.

Peggy's Lake

I found this lovely little un-named lake when I was hiking off trail in the Sierras and promptly gave it a name: Peggy’s Lake.

Black Buttes

The Black Buttes east of Interstate 80 looking golden.

Five Lakes Basin

I’ve had a number of trout dinners from this lake over the years.

Thunderheads at Glacier Lake in Five Lakes Basin

Thunderheads. Rain, hail and lightning storms added excitement to our trips.

Family backpacking

My trail companions: Peggy, Cody, Tasha and Ethan.

And of course we traveled elsewhere. Two of our trips involved returning to the desert. Peggy and I journeyed down through the Sacramento Valley and into southern Nevada where we visited the Valley of Fire State Park. I made my way back to Burning Man in the remote Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada.

Mt. Shasta

We always travel somewhere on my birthday, usually with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake. This year took us down past Mt. Shasta still wearing its winter coat…

California's Central Valley

Through California’s Central Valley looking very spring-like.

Rock sculpture in Valley of Fire State Park

And into southern Nevada’s very dry Valley of Fire State Park…

Arch at Valley of Fire State Park

Which included this small but colorful arch.

Tony's promotion

Summer took us across the USA to Charleston, South Carolina where we celebrated our son’s promotion to Lieutenant Commander in the Coast Guard. His wife, Cammie, and boys Chris, Connor and Cooper help add his new rank.

Man at Burning Man 2017

I returned to Burning Man…

Rabid Express at Burning Man 2017

Where I found this marvellous mutant vehicle known as Rabid Transit.

Pumpkin carving festival in Rhode Island

October found us back East again where we attended a pumpkin carving spectacular in Providence, Rhode Island.

Did I succeed in escaping the world of political turmoil? Not quite. And neither would I want to. I spent my life working as a community advocate with non-profit organizations on environmental and public health issues. Time and again, I have seen that concerned people can, and do make a positive difference.

Ultimately, I am an optimist. The majority of the people in the US believe that our nation should serve as a positive force in the world, want to breathe clean air and drink clean water, think that neither sex, age, ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference should be a limiting factor in determining what a person might become or contribute, believe that there is value in protecting the wild, beautiful and historic areas of the world, support a more equitable distribution of wealth, want to reduce violence, and believe that affordable health care and education should be available to all.

It is my hope for this country that leaders (be they Republicans, or Democrats, or Independents) will step forward with the vision to heal the nation and move it toward the point where it reflects what the majority of Americans support— and hope for. Likewise, I have a similar hope for the world. While I realize that this sounds naïve (and I’ve been around the block enough times to know), I also believe that we live in a rapidly changing world with great promise but even greater danger. If we are to achieve the promise and avoid the danger, which may include our very survival, we must learn to work together much more effectively for the good of all as opposed to the few. We all have a stake in the outcome, as do our children, grandchildren and future generations.

I have both enjoyed and learned from the people I follow on Word Press this past year as you have taken me along on your travels, adventures, and personal journeys through life. Even more, I have enjoyed the friendships we have created. My thanks to you— and to everyone who stops by to visit my blog.

Peggy and I wish each of you and your families a happy and healthy 2018.

56 thoughts on “2017 in Review… What a Year!

    • Interesting, Ray, the 2018 January/February issue of the Smithsonian magazine is titled “1968, The Year that Shattered America.” I haven’t read it yet but Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, My Lai, and the Chicago Convention all pop into my mind. I was recruiting for Peace Corps at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown when news of Martin Luther King’s assassination was announced. And I still remember the terrible feeling it caused in my gut, the thought that we had crossed over a bridge… I spent the next week in Washington DC hunkered down. Peace Corps had called all of it’s recruiters back to Washington. –Curt

    • Thanks, Andrew. It was a very good year for getting back into nature. I am hoping to do more backpacking this year. Mexico and the Southwest are also in our plans. Here is to 2018 indeed! What adventures do you have planned? –Curt

    • 1968-The Tet Offensive, Pictures of cars being turned over and burned at Berkeley and the Democratic Convention. There was hate and anger on both sides of the divide. We got through that. We move forward, stumbling like drunk sailors on Liberty. “And the marvelous clouds sail by”…

      • I have faith in the country, Bradly. It is greater than the sum of it’s parts. And it is our diversity that makes us strong. As long as we can remember the power of compromise in achieving our objectives. –Curt

  1. What can I say? Absolutely stunning scenery and photos to capture the scenery. You live in an amazing corner of the world my friend. I can see why you have returned to the same backpacking region for 50 years! And perfect name for the lake you discovered, “Peggy’s Lake”.

    • I was just taken to task on my beliefs by a 40 year old Physicist that works with Sandia, (and whatever do they do there?) I had to agree, that us baby boomers have made a mess of things. The older I get, the more conservative I become. I handed the reins over to her. She has two young daughters she is raising by herself and she is a remarkable young lady. Let see where we grow from here…

      • Each generation has its cross to bear, Bradley. I’m enough of an historian to see little in the way of ‘golden ages’ in the past, and, unless we evolve considerably, golden ages in the future. I do think that America has become more ‘tribal’ as the popular word describes it. Having served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa and having seen the devastation that tribalism can cause, it scares me. Being conservative or liberal doesn’t bother me. Being reactionary or radical does. I tend to think there are good, and not so good, folks in all age groups and within a fairly wide political spectrum. The challenge is to find enough common ground to move forward. 🙂 –Curt

    • Mr. Gp Cox said it well, You give to all of us Curt. It seems the pendulum has once again swung too far! I used to describe myself as an Extreme Right Wing Conservative with strong Union Sympathies. Now I just go fishing and wonder what part I played in all of this. Not much I know but as a baby boomer I watched my generation embrace the drug culture and I just feel responsible somehow. So having the strong and yes warm people that have decided to follow you, I want to work on a case by case basis and give back. “God Bless Us, Each and every one.”

      • Mr. Cox you are so right. And I have always overreacted to a situation so I am going to help by donating time to causes that I feel are worthwhile. I have a close friend and his stepson is struggling with alcohol. I can help and support in areas like this. I sure like Curt and Peggy, perhaps some day we can all have coffee assuming we all like coffee… LOL

      • I’ve always been on the liberal but moderate side of the equation, Bradley, never the burn it down or blow it up. 🙂 And I often worked with conservatives of a like mind who were more interested in finding solutions and common ground. –Curt

  2. You’ve had an amazing year and I appreciate you sharing it with us. Like you, I’m hoping leaders of all persuasions act in ways to heal the US. I remember 1968 well and hope 2018 is not a repeat.

    • GP Cox and I are SO on the same page. I tend to beat everyone into submission and he suggested a bit of diplomacy. I then did some research and his father, and mine were both WWII Heroes. Anyone that served in that military era is indeed a hero so I will look into his blog. Write soon and more often as I enjoy what you have to say!

      • I’ve burned my share of bridges along the way, too, Bradley— even when I recognize there is a better way. What success I have had has come from the better way…
        I’ve learned a lot from GP over the last 3-4 years I’ve followed the blog. –Curt

      • Mr. Cox has suggested I go at things with a bit more patience and I think that is excellent advice. You and Peggy keep doing what you are doing and my hope is that we will all find a bit more patience

  3. LOVELY and awesome post, as usually, Sir… 🙂 1000 MERCI for dropping by my virtual playground and for your kind wishes… my very best for 2018: health, joy, peace, love and… oceans of inspiration! cheers! Mélanie Bedos-Toulouse

  4. Thanks for this beautiful resumé. I have missed so many post this year that it was great to have a speeded-up run though. Your summing up at the end was heartening and I hope your most optimistic predictions come true. The Americans I know personally are almost a different species from those I see and hear on the news. I keep hoping that the news ones are the smaller, if noisier, crowd. Have a wonderful Year walking the world in 2018.

    • Always glad when you stop by Hillary. It was fun putting together the post since it served as a review of the year for me as well!
      We will see about the political scene. It doesn’t seem like things can get much worse, but…
      As I said, I am an optimist. 🙂 A very good year to you and your family. –Curt

  5. Happy New Year Curt and Peggy. A fabulous collection of photos and experiences in 2017. I chuckled at the squirrel photos now that I know about all of the squirrel relocations! you must be very proud of your son. What a special moment to capture. Here’s hoping for a more settled world and a large dose of kindness raining down on this world.

  6. Of course it’s impossible to choose a single favorite, so I’ll name the variety myself as my favorite thing about this post. Nothing in the world could be better than having the ability to travel, and the ability to come home to something as gorgeous as where you’ve been. Here’s to safe travels and happy homecomings for both you and Peggy in 2018!

    • Thanks, Linda! Peggy and I are in complete agreement. We are always glad to go and always glad to return. May your exploration of the world around you continue to provide such delightful blog material this coming year. –Curt

  7. You’ve had a wonderful year, Curt! The photos are magnificent, and your thoughts about the state of the world mirror my own. May your 2018 bring you and Peggy more opportunities to roam outdoors as well as happiness and health at home!

  8. A lovely look back. Thank you for somewhat bringing me up to speed on your adventures (at least for this past year.) I’m only at the very beginning of getting to know our new neighborhood close to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Most of all I’m finding the escape from the current turmoil a relief. It’s restorative to get lost (figuratively speaking) in the national forest.

    My own reflection ran mostly back to the wildfire that came ever so close shortly after we settled in. That was somewhat unnerving, but I tried to emulate your rather cavalier attitude as you headed out to burning man with your own fire approaching.

    Then thanks for the memories. So many of your travels touched on places I’m familiar with.

    So…. I’ll just end this comment with a favorite quote – one I used recently at my blog:
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
    ― Edward Abbey

    I’m convinced you hold that advice close to your heart!

    • Peggy did the Rogue River trip a couple of years ago while I provided shuttle services. It is beautiful country. I stayed in a motel that looks down on the river.

      The wildfires up here have been bad. And they are scary. My sense is to do as much as we can to make our property fire safe and then hope for the best. I used to think it would be safer to live in a city, but seeing what happened this past year, especially in California, I’m not so sure anymore.

      Edward Abbey is a favorite of mine. Thanks so much for the quote, Gunta. It does strike a note in my soul. And may you continue your adventures as well. –Curt

      • I suppose I ought to trust to Eric’s experience fighting fires with the forest service. But we had just put nearly three years into creating our own little ‘cabin’ above the creek. We had barely settled in when the Chetco Bar fire exploded and was heading in our direction. It made for some uneasy moments for sure.

        Looks like our ‘politics’ align as well as our love of this amazing area we live in, not to mention an appreciation for Abbey! I don’t think this world offers any truly safe place this year. Just have to choose your poison, so to speak.

      • Always easier to talk about the value of forest fires to the ecosystem when you aren’t staring one in the face! Laughing.
        BTW, I found Edward Abbey’s “Confessions of a Barbarian” fascinating and recommend it if you haven’t read it. It consists of selections from his journals from 1951-1989.
        And yes, I suspect we are aligned in our political concerns about the future of our country.
        For the time being, I am quite happy living in our little corner of the world! –Curt

  9. I envy your location! I’d be happily lost in those woods every day. Enjoy:)
    Thanks for such a beautiful sum-up to your 2017. Politics have been full of amusing antics by the not so wise n famous! We might even survive that!

  10. Curt, what a fabulous year and I’ve enjoyed reading about your trips and seeing the beautiful landscapes, and learning more about crazy amazing Burning Man. Wishing you and Peggy a wonderful New Year filled with new adventures and laughter! 😀

  11. Love this year in review and wish I had taken the time to do something similar. All shots of nature are gorgeous, but I was especially taken with the arched rock at Valley of Fire. The fish made of found objects makes me smile, as does just about everything you post from Burning Man. I love seeing creativity in action. And our views on the government — pretty similar. I’m sorry for our country in many ways, yet I’m hopeful that the people who go to work each day, raise families, and spend retirement in meaningful volunteer endeavors can be the heart — always — of the country and the positive force behind change as well as the preservers of tradition. I’m just an optimist, I suppose. Best wishes for a great 2018!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s