As I sit in my office seat at my computer desk with an empty screen before me, I look out my window at the endless snows at 8,000 feet.
To the west of me, the Rocky Mountains cut their majestic profiles into the evening sky. Lodge pole pines blanket the valleys that sweep down into Clear Creek. A herd of 50 buffalo search for grass beneath two feet of fresh snow. Below me, the lights of Denver sparkle for as far as the eye can see.
The sun rises and sunsets across the wide Colorado sky make for majesty too amazing to paint in words. I know most Americans have visited this state so they know what I am talking about. Tonight, horsetail clouds caught the last rays of a strawberry sunset. They glowed red on their front sides and swished into gray and white on their back sides. The sky shimmered with steel blue and silver. My eyes lingered at their beauty.
Earlier today, 30 elk walked by my window on their foraging route that has been an endless cycle for centuries. I love living in the wilds where coyotes, fox, deer, elk, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, finches and black capped chickadees visit my feeders regularly. On occasion, a black bear greets my wife Sandi and me on our hikes through the wilderness.
This fall, we hiked up to the top of Bergen Park picnic area at 9,000 feet where we ate dinner while three deer munched on grass not 20 feet away. With the golden aspen sharing their riches, we enjoyed the setting sun glowing through the forest as it created visual magic all around us.
For these blessings, I am mighty glad to be a country boy living on a country road surrounded by wilderness. As John Denver sang, “Thank God I’m a country boy!”
I truly am thankful for all my blessings. I enjoy good health, a roof over my head, passion, purpose and a sense of God, country and community. Our two boys, Dan and Trevor visited on Christmas Eve. We shared dinner, conversation and a few meaningful gifts.
Both Dan and Trevor, tall, smart and handsome, enjoy their lives in balance and positive life paths. Dan created his own computer company while he leads a local band. He loves skiing, para-sailing, writing songs, playing guitar, piano and violin. Trevor continues on his college path toward an eventual doctor’s degree. He’s a backpacker, cyclist, artist and poet. He’s also a kind and considerate young man. We’re proud that both of them contribute to America as solid citizens.
After working on my latest book for two years, How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World,, it finally published and I hope it makes a positive impact on teens, middle agers and retirees alike. If a farm boy like me can travel the planet from very humble beginnings, anyone can do it.
The usual array of Christmas letters and pictures caught us up on the comings and goings of our friends. Nice to see most of them enjoying their lives! Of course, tragedy struck me with the death of my brother John last February and another friend Mike is about to leave the planet from cancer.
The circle of life continues. My longtime college friends Bob and Marie are proud grandparents of Leo from their daughter Rexanne. We visited them in Winter Park with their many friends.
Last weekend, I skied with my friend Tony for some great runs at Winter Park, Colorado. Nothing beats a stupendous ski run down a 12,000 foot peak. I feel like I’m 21 as I turn the skis and cruise through the magic of an aspen glade in deep powder.
During the winter for the past 20 years, I have been a volunteer ski instructor for the handicapped at the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park, Colorado. www.NSCD.org I have taught countless teens, adults and older persons how to ski with disabilities that range from war wounds, amputations, blindness, MS, MD, CP and traumatic brain injuries. I am inspired by their courage and tenacity to live fruitful and meaningful lives.
On Thursday nights, we dance country two step at the Grizzly Rose in Denver. On Saturday nights, Sandi and I dance six and eight count swing, cha cha, sulsa, waltz and other dances at the Electric Cowboy. We taught swing dancing at the Buchanan Recreation Center, Evergreen, Colorado at the Christmas party.
As I looked back at some of our bicycle touring on the Continental Divide this past summer, I have to pinch myself at being this old and yet able to pedal my touring cycle for thousands of miles. Perhaps the picture of me snoozing on a guard rail with the sign saying, “Continental Divide Ride 2011 with Tim, Bob and Frosty” says it all.
Did I really see an 800 pound grizzly take down a cow elk in Yellowstone National Park and feast on his lunch for two hours? Did I meet my old college roommate John and talk for seven hours to catch up. From a teacher, he’s become a top novelist who has met and befriended Stephen King. His books enthrall! Is the power of the Internet (created by Al Gore, of course) simply amazing for connecting us worldwide? Was that night where were we slept in a teepee on the plains or rode a jackalope in DeBois, Wyoming a lot of fun or what?
How about that young couple riding 24,000 miles around the world on bicycles that we met in Ludden, Wyoming? I check them out to see their progress at www.foodcyclist.com John and Kate put on quite a show with their video camera and writing. Many blessings on your journey my friends.
That amazing backpack trip into Chicago Basin with four 14,000 foot peaks highlighted my summer. We rode the ancient Silverton train from Durango to our drop off spot. We hiked six miles into base camp at 11,200 feet by a roaring white water stream. We camped out among a billion wild flowers in full bloom. Joe, Al and I summitted all four of them as we met people from around the world. We saw shooting stars just like John Denver’s song, “I’ve seen fire in the sky….” At the top of the peaks for the next two days, we gazed in wonder for 100 miles in all directions.
This reflection of the year 2011 is probably much like your Christmas letter. You must admit, we Americans enjoy a fabulous country. Even the poorest among us enjoy opportunities, food, shelter, education, medical care and hope. While 2011 may not have been so good on the world stage or many individual lives, here in America, at least for today, we carry hope within our hearts and we work toward a better tomorrow for future generations.
God bless America and God bless you and your family. Happy New Year, Sandi and Frosty Wooldridge.