From the Cottage at Zimmer’s Landing
19 December ’18
Merry Christmas from snowy, cheerful and quaking Alaska – home of the aftershock! Our recent ‘stirred and shaken’ experiences brought a riveting conclusion to our engaging, exciting and far flung year; a year we hope was equally exciting and memorable for you as well.
We escorted ‘18 in with a flair with fireworks and wonderful champagne in Feldkirch Austria. Our ‘Year in Vorarlberg’ was well underway as was our season Ski pass in the Alps. Ursula and I long talked about spending a year in her hometown to invalidate Thomas Wolf’s disclaimer that you can never go home again; ‘18 was our year. We rented a wonderful apartment near the heart of town, serendipitously discovered an unlimited use of a car, re-engaged with friends and family and prepared for a boundless future filled with excitement. As fate would have it, it was then that we also confirmed that my time in the Schengen Zone would be limited to three months…. a few weeks away. There was nothing we, or anybody else, could do about it. While Ursula stayed in our newly rented apartment, I gave up the half used season ski pass, the beautiful valleys and glorious snow encrusted Alps and headed off Cambodia to visit Phnom Penh and bike around Angkor Park. Angkor Watt, in the physical, rivaled it’s legend and the rest of the ‘old capital’ lived up to it’s reputation as marvel of the ancient world. While I enjoyed the sun’s warmth and incredible foods, Ursula finished up a splendid ski season, enjoyed another Fasching carnival, a visit to Barcelona and more time with family and friends.
In time, I wandered away from the East and headed home to Alaska’s frozen lakes, the Iron Dog Race, Iditarod Mushing extravaganza and snow-machining across the tundra! In the Spring, when my ‘Schengen Zone Banishment’ lifted, we rejoined in Vorarlberg with a renewed three months of biking, hiking, traveling, eating, drinking and living the Austrian life. Rather than separating for a second three months, after a total of nine months, we surrendered the Gutes Leben and flew to Pennsylvania to recover our new (old) RV.
A new adventure was afoot; ‘nomading’ up to Alaska and terrorizing the cats! Eight States, Four Provinces and four thousand miles later we’d visited state, national, provincial and RV parks, home driveways and Wall Mart parking lots. Along the way friends showed us the real South Dakota and we later escaped the 106 degree furnace of North Dakota. Other than almost running over the furry gigantic lumps near the road (also known as Bison), a major tire blow-out at 55 mph and the genuine blossoming of familial hate and discontent incident to too close quarters living, the trip was uneventful and wonderful. We made it home to Big Lake a bit frazzled around the edges looking forward to catching up with friends, house projects and ready to rest up for whatever the future would bear.
Because of the troubles with visas and Green Cards, Ursula committed to eliminate future travel constraints by becoming an American citizen. For the past few months she’s filled out reams of paperwork, given her fingerprints for the umpteenth time and studied endless hours to prepare for the her upcoming civics and history test with the Naturalization Office on Christmas Eve (because of the shutdown, now postponed till the end of Jan!). If all goes well, we’ll celebrate our newest American citizen in the new year.
It was a busy year so far, but Mother Nature allowed no respite for the residents of South-central Alaska. She shook the lazy of us out of bed exactly at 08:29 with a 7.0 earthquake a dozen miles away and under Big Lake. After losing most of our crystal collection and glassware, a few pictures and vases, the follow-on 5.2 quake took the rest of it. It was a busy week for the community cleaning up and helping out. In time I was able to participate in my first ‘Team Rubicon’ deployment. The sad irony of it was that it wasn’t in some foreign devastated land, but in and around our own neighborhoods as TR aided the borough (county) conducting damage surveys of the community’s homes.
So, the year is ending with a renewed love for the Austrian villages, valleys and mountains, a revitalized view of our dynamic, caring and industrious Alaskan community, the prospects that Ursula’s citizenship will bring and the burning zeal for new adventures and a future of meaning. All in all, it was a pretty cool year, even as we continue to play ‘earthquake roulette’ while guessing the magnitude of the latest of the 4,000+ aftershocks.
A brief insight for our vision of 2019: We hope to fulfill our RV Nomading quest through the lower 48 to see this majestic country and visit with as many of our friends as possible (now looking dimmer as the Naturalization appointments are delayed). I plan to build the ultimate home hydroponic greenhouse in the spring while Ursula visits Austria and then close out the year with a ‘Year in Italy’,,, well actually only three months as I still can’t get around that Schengen Zone tourist visa thing. I think we’ve succeeded in Retirement, and as such we’re seriously looking at retiring from retirement as I delve into meaningful employment possibilities that combine interest, challenge and value. Who knows, going back to work part time may be just the ticket for more post military adventures.
Most importantly, we’re so grateful for our new friends and the old friends we’ve kept in touch with, even-though some are limited to texts, emails, or Face Book ‘like’s. We hope to be more engaged with you in the coming year. For those of you with whom we can’t catch up with face-to-face, there’s always zimmerslanding.com where we’ve captured our travel blogs, photos, short videos and arts of just about all of our recent adventures, mixed in with a few thoughtful editorials. If you ever get bored and want to check out our latest interests, dive into the website, it’s now content rich and commercial free. Leave a note behind if you do.
Ursula and I wish you a Very Merry Christmas and hope you find next year to be more meaningful and enriching than any before.
Ursula & Darren