As much as this was a rough year, it also felt like it went by really fast. Perhaps that is because I threw myself into geocaching as a means of escape, and it was a great year doing that.
December is my month for my friends. Back in the old days of the internet, before there was even AOL, there were usenet newsgroups. I read several of them, but by far my favorite was rec.arts.disney.parks, or RADP as we called it. In 1996, there was a formal gathering of people from the newsgroup at Disney World for the first time. There was a time we had 400+ at the official meet in December. Over the years it’s declined to the point that we have a group of 20 close friends that gather together in December. This was the last year that it was an “official” meet, since it seems it’s the same people now. It was a good run.
I drove to Florida from New Hampshire. I’d planned to do that because I like driving and with rental cars being expensive this year, it was way cheaper to drive than to fly and rent a car. I wanted to be there a few days before everyone else arrived to see other friends I hadn’t seen in a while due to COVID and do some geocaching. The friends part of that was easy to accomplish. I saw my closest friend from high school (and my maid of honor) and her family, then visited with Alex Diaz-Granados who writes the blog A Certain Point of View Too. We’ve been friends since writing on Epinions nearly 20 years ago but didn’t meet in person until now. He doesn’t live too far from Orlando, so I drove over there one day, and we went to lunch. It was a great day, discussing all of the things in person that we’d discussed online, such as our fandoms (we’re both huge Star Trek and Star Wars fans), politics, and life in general.
The day we visited the Magic Kingdom, my best friend’s daughter was proposed to by her long-time boyfriend. It was so perfect, and she was surprised. We had talked to everyone else in our group as well as the photographer beforehand, so everyone knew it was going to happen except Jessie. I cried. She cried. Her mom cried. It was beautiful.
Disney World was a disappointment, though. I’ve been going for many years, and it was always a place to escape for me. Even with all of the changes through the years, I lived going there. This last transformation, from last January until now, has left a bad taste in my mouth. With having knee replacement and ankle reconstruction, I can’t stand in one place too long. Almost all of the lines were 90 minutes or more. I didn’t ride very many rides. Their disability access for me would be to “rent a wheelchair and go through the lines.” That’s not what I want to do. I’m perfectly capable of walking in the parks. Most days I logged about 6-8 miles, which is great considering how sedentary I am at home. I want to be up and walking and getting exercise, I just can’t stand in lines. My only other alternative is to buy their new “Lightning Lane” which is essentially what fastpass used to be, only now they charge you for it. Some of the most popular rides they will charge up to $15 per person for what used to be free while just to use the system in general is $15 per person per day. All of this is on top of the usual Disney ticket prices.
So, other than my annual trip with friends or the biannual trip with family, Disney World is no longer on my list of favorite places to take a vacation. I had a much better time earlier this year in Cancun and would rather go there or somewhere else in the Riu Resorts family after a great experience with them.
On the way home from Disney World I made a detour to Nashville. I hadn’t seen my daughter Janine in 6 years due to her husband being in the Air Force and them being stationed first in Japan and then Minot, ND. They now live near Nashville, so I went to see them and we went to dinner together. Yes, I cried too. It was so wonderful to be able to hug her again and tell her I love her, not just write it on a screen.
Christmas was good. This was the first year in a long time that I felt like celebrating. Usually I would go through it for my son and my grand-daughter, trying to decorate and make it festive for them. This year it was fun for me too, and I would say I felt content. There were lots of good presents to go around and it was a nice day.
My 4 year old treeing walker coonhound, Sansa, is still struggling with skin allergies. When it first flared two years ago, the vet put her on Apoquel. She had a reaction to that, developing “candle-wick” sores all over her body. She’s been just on benadryl for the last year and doing okay until just after Thanksgiving when it flared again. Her skin gets very red and itchy. I usually use monistat creme on it since it works for yeast infections and that usually helps. However, it wasn’t the case this time. I took her to the vet before I left for Florida and the vet gave her a shot of cytopoint. By the time I arrived home, the allergies had only gotten worse, not better. She’s now got an appointment the end of January to possibly be in a new medication study. Meanwhile I’ve been trying all different moisturizers on her skin and she is on a strict hydrolyzed protein diet. I am wondering, though, if she’s allergic to cats. I looked it up, and it is possible, and would explain why it gets so bad when it’s winter and windows are closed and she’s inside most of the time.
Due to being in the south for more than half the month, I didn’t expect to get much done on the Towns of New England challenge. However, the last week of the year gave me a bit of opportunity to work on Massachusetts. I found caches in 15 town in the northeastern part of the state. Geocaching on Cape Ann was beautiful. I’d never been to the towns of Gloucester and Rockport before, and I enjoyed visiting them and seeing so much colonial-era architecture.
The weather wasn’t so great, but it worked out okay. Now it’s a matter of watching the snow cover maps to see if there are any locations that don’t have snow.
It took me 11+ years, but I finally filled in my Fizzy Grid! That’s what geocachers call the grid with all of the available Difficulty/Terrain combinations. The higher the number, the harder it is. Thanks to getting a kayak and looking at geocaching challenges around the country, I was able to fill in all of the boxes except one by the end of October. I found a geocache in North Carolina that had the difficulty/terrain rating for that one box and made a stop just outside of Raleigh when I drove to Florida to find it.
I also made find #8000 when I was finding geocaches in Massachusetts. This is an electrical box painted to look like the Doctor Who TARDIS. I wanted something special for this milestone, and this was perfect.
BOOKS I READ
In between all of the travel, this was the only book I finished. In my defense, it was a long book. It didn’t grab me the way others in the series have, but I’ll leave the rest for the review that I will hopefully write soon.