Monday, December 23, 2013

Postcard From The Periphery

Even though time is a continuum, we rely on clocks and calendars to track the chronology of our existence on this planet. So perched on the periphery between this year and next, it’s natural to reflect upon the events and activities that shaped our lives during 2013.

Looking back, it’s been a good year; all are healthy and happy and we had some fun and adventures along the way. And so, in keeping with tradition -- and without further ado -- here is Gonzo’s “year in review.” This will be as close to a holiday card as it’s gonna get.

In January, a newly-minted Allen Hall greeted students in the expanded and renovated facility that houses the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. 

In early March, the school held the official grand opening of Allen Hall with Ann Curry, NBC news correspondent and distinguished alumna of the UO SOJC, in attendance.

Also in March, the UO announced the His Holiness the Dalai Lama -- Tenzin Gyatso, the temporal and spiritual leader of the people of Tibet -- would hold court in May at the Matthew Knight Arena.

Students, faculty and staff were offered tickets first, and the ducats sold quickly. Next, the general public had its opportunity to purchase tickets; they disappeared within ten minutes. More than 11,000 seats to see the Dalai Lama had sold out in the blink of an eye.

Fortunately, we had secured our two berths for the event. Friend Lupe Marroquin traveled down from Anchorage the week of the event hoping to secure a ticket, which she did the night before.

So Rebecca, Lupe and I hiked to campus on an unseasonably warm spring day and witnessed the wit and wisdom of the Dalai Lama, a delightfully enlightening experience. I can now say I’ve seen Elvis, Hunter S. Thompson and the Dalai Lama, all in the same lifetime.

Venturing into the wilderness in July for the first time in 2013, friends Frank Czubiak, Steve Still and I spent a few days in Spider Meadows on Phelps Creek in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The highlight was a trek to the top of Spider Glacier, which featured outstanding views of the Entiat Mountains (above) and Lyman Lakes.

Later in July, Rebecca and I traveled to the Puget Sound are for the Seattle Masters Track Meet, where she competed in the 100, 200, 400 and 400-meter relay races. We enjoyed visiting her brother Doug Brand, who lives in nearby White Center, and visited the street fair at Alki Beach in West Seattle (below), where Doug sells his paintings.

In early August, friend Frank Czubiak and I visited Crater Lake on the 40th anniversary of my time as a tour guide and boat operator on the lake. We camped at the nearby Diamond Lake Forest Service Campground a few miles outside of the park.

We would have stayed longer but the large, Douglas Complex Fire near Roseburg eventually chased us home. I thought about all poor tourists who had planned for months and possibly years to visit the "jewel of the Cascades," only to find themselves smoked out.

Later in August, Jory and I departed for Italy for our big trip of the summer. After a long flight from Eugene and a layover at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, we arrived in Genoa.

After a couple days of adjusting the nine-hour time difference and kicking around the neighborhood around the hotel, we took the boat to Portofino and later, the train to Ventimiglia (below) on the French border, seeing the entire stretch of the Italian Riviera.

We also had plenty of time to check out the restaurants in Porto Antico and the Porta Soprana neighborhood -- the purported birthplace of explorer and native son, Christopher Columbus.

We also took a taxi to Orero, a small village north of Genoa, thinking it was the birthplace of my grandmother and her family, only to find out it was the wrong Orero (yes, turns out there are two). We still had a good time thanks to our cab driver, who doubled as an interpreter.

In October, Rebecca and I traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2013 PRSA/PRSSA International Conference. Brother Robert lives and works in Philly, so we spent time together at Longwood Acres, an elaborate arboretum and conservatory. The conference was great and it’s always fun to see friends and colleagues.

In December, a stomach virus took me out of the rotation for about three weeks, so Christmas shopping came close to deadline. As for 2014, we look forward to another year of adventure. More wilderness trekking? Definitely. Another European vacation? Perhaps. I kind of like the idea of Barcelona, Spain. Happy New Year to one and all!