Oh 2018… what are we gonna do with you? On the surface, you were dreamy…. All national parks, new friends, delicious food, and jaw dropping sites.
There was Zion…
and Grand Teton….
There was Horseshoe Bend…
There were endless fields of wildflowers in Idaho….
and picture perfect waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge…..
There were massive cliffs bathed in the glow of perfect California sunsets….
and ancient Puebloan structures that have withstood the tests of time and brutal weather…
There was scenery right out of the movies of our childhoods….
and mountain views so lovely, they belonged on postcards…
There were towering natural bridges formed by millions of years of water erosion, enormous cacti reaching ever upward toward deep blue skies, and dunes of blinding white sand so large, they stretched infinitely in each direction….
And, if all that weren’t enough, we encountered a pistachio. The biggest pistachio of them all.
While the natural wonders we feasted our eyes on were breathtaking, the cities we visited didn’t let us down either.
There was the always-fascinating and obscenely delicious New Orleans….
A new beach-town favorite, San Diego….
The never dull Las Vegas…
And the endlessly entertaining Los Angeles….
We continued the trend of meeting awesome people through Instagram and this blog, and made efforts to circle back around to friends we’d met previously. Some of these folks were there for us in big ways when we needed them, and we won’t forget their kindness.
All of this… and it’s a lot… justifies labeling 2018 as: “Freaken awesome!” But…. we lost our dog. And I lost my mom. And, just to add insult to injury, she passed away the day before Kevin’s and my 15th wedding anniversary. Instead of happily celebrating our milestone anniversary, I spent the day making my mother’s funeral arrangements.
Before our terrible autumn, we spent a frustrating, and at times frightening, summer roasting in relentless triple digit heat while keeping a weary eye on the wildfires that seemed to surround us no matter where we went. And in the midst of all this, we faced a seemingly endless list of expensive repairs to our car which only added to an apparently limitless supply of budget busting expenses.
And the thing is, it wasn’t just us. Friend after friend endured horrific bad luck this year. HUGE disasters, costly mishaps, significant health issues for them and their families.
What the hell, 2018? Why’d you have to be so vicious???
2017 wasn’t like this. 2017 was all about following the plan, doing what we expected to do, staying in budget. The world around us was not – literally – on fire.
I mean, if we’re using Miley Cyrus for illustrative purposes (because, why wouldn’t we?), 2017 was all:
whereas, 2018 was all:
Thanks a bunch, Miley.
BUT… that’s the nice, completely manufactured, thing about December. The new year is an opportunity to close one door and open another, even if only in our minds. And so, that’s what we’re doing. We’re watching 2018 disappear in the rearview mirror as we focus on new plans, new destinations, and, most importantly, a new family member in 2019.
A New Addition
Losing Dixie at the beginning of the year was kind of the first domino to fall in a long line of them, so it seemed fitting that we should start 2019 with a new furry sidekick.
As we got more comfortable with the idea of adopting again, we started talking about the specifics of what we wanted. We knew we shouldn’t blindly take home the first dog we met without thinking through whether he or she was a good match.
So, what was on our wish list?
- We wanted a German Shepherd
- We wanted a female
- We wanted our new Shepherd to have long fur like Dixie (counter-intuitively, the longer haired GSDs seem to shed less than their shorter haired cousins)
- We wanted a true puppy – like 12 to 15 weeks old – so we could properly train her, expose her to all kinds of situations, and avoid the socialization issues that are so common in shelter/rescue dogs.
Our original plan was to start really looking when we returned to Arizona, but I started poking around a bit while we were in southern California, and, well…. Kevin and I have never met a dog we didn’t want, so, meet our new dog, Thor:
a male, short haired, 1 year old German Shepherd, who was not properly socialized.
Honestly, the only thing we got right is that he’s a German Shepherd.
But look at him!
I mean, that’s a good lookin dog!! Plus, he’s smart, motivated to learn, eager to please, and, most importantly, ALL about the snuggles.
Speaking of which, and probably not surprising to any dog lovers out there, we are constantly finding ourselves agreeing with this statement:
It’s true! All YOU need is love and a dog.
All the DOG needs, on the other hand, is approximately 34% of your monthly budget…
Of course, I’m kidding. Actually, no, I’m not. These buttheads are expensive. But they are worth every penny! We’re getting him lots of exercise, working on obedience training, and trying to head off all the many, many, MANY personality quirks that make German Shepherds
a giant pain in the ass a challenging breed to raise.
Meanwhile, between trips to Petsmart to buy All The Things, hours of research about the best dog foods and the best dog treats and the best dog toys, and engaging in PhD level studies on the history, methodology, and techniques of canine behavioral psychology and operant conditioning, we are learning just what it takes to raise an energetic, untrained, rambunctious one year old puppy.
“No, Thor, the leash is not a toy….”
“No, Thor, the bushes around the campsite are not a “make your own stick” shop.”
“No, Thor, those are not your ‘precious;’ They are my sneakers and I’d prefer them to stay in one piece.”
“No, Thor, you do not need to let us know about every dog that walks by…”
Of course, the longer we have him, the better he gets, and the more we can relax.
“Man, Thor is such a great dog. He’s just entertaining himself and letting me get stuff done on the computer.
I feel like he’s truly settling in and starting to understand the boundaries we’ve set for him.
He really is a smart dog and he really does want to do the right thing.
We just need to continue being consistent and patient with him and I think he’s gonna flourish!
Wait… Is that the sound of chewing????”
….It’s a process.
Anyway, all things considered, he’s doing great, and we’re happy to, once again, have a furry roommate in our lives, even if it does mean our rapidly depreciating RV is depreciating just a bit more rapidly these days.
Here’s to lots more positive, fun, happy news in 2019…
From our pack to yours, Happy New Year, everyone!!