I cherish 2013 with all its ups and downs, and there were lots of both. Fortunately - as always - the ups outweighed my downs. I was human and made many mistakes last year - some far more foolish than others. Luckily, for the most part, I can say I learned from most of them, and can laugh at a lot of them. "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger,"is what my parents used to tell us siblings about each other when we were younger, so I recall anyway.
I made some amazing new friends this year. And developed some wonderful existing ones. One friendship in particular especially coloured the latter half of my year with joy and love. I am so very lucky to have finally found him. To me, he continues to be extraordinary and exotic. I am grateful for his fortitude during life's stresses and his continued faith and long-vision. We have had such fun doing a great variety of things together - proving him to be exactly the right kind of partner for me.
|Summer Solstice quadding|
It was not a 'good' fire season (from the helicopter industry's perspective) but I personally had a very productive year all in all. This fall I finally left - on good terms - the company where I have been working for the past few years, and signed on to be a heli-ski support pilot with Alpine. I likely won't rack up the hours this winter but there is no better way to get a foot in the heli-ski door. The demanding conditions and weather should greatly improve my flying skills and so far I have been enjoying the challenge. Variety is the spice of life - so it is great to finally be doing something completely novel. Who knows where I will be for the summer - good thing I have a few more months to figure that out.
|Perched at landing high in the Monashees|
Last year was the best year since I started flying for travel and adventure (outside of work anyway).
Machu Picchu in January- particularly the Inca trail trek with my parents and brother Jeremy - was, of course, incredible. Rainy and muddy but also full of smiling co-trekkers, strong and nimble-footed porters, great food and pre-dawn coca tea. I missed doing Kilimajaro back in 2001 with them when I was doing my thesis research in Kenya, so I knew I couldn't miss this trekking opportunity. Hopefully there will be chances for a bunch more hiking adventures in the future - after we give Dad a little time to recover from his imminent hip replacement surgery.
In June I joined my roommate for a birthday week of marlin fishing, diving, enchilada-gorging and margarita-imbibing in Cabo San Lucas.
It was a fantastic spur-of-the-moment trip and a much needed emotional reset for myself.
Travellers came our way too. My cousin Sarah (Tink) and her hubbie and offspring made their way to Canada and I managed to sneak home from work just in time to catch up and cavort in the lake with them.
|The Gibbons - family contingent from England - enjoy the balmy Okanagan at the Lakehouse|
At the end of August I was vetted by my man's father in a most unusual manner. Considering we all survived, and indeed thrived, together on a 28 foot boat for almost a week of fishing around Bella Coola, I figure I passed with flying colours. The only time I ended up overboard was on a self-imposed swim to the Eucott Bay hot springs.
|Time for a luxurious scrub at the hot springs|
It was incredible exploring the wilds, beaches and the ghost towns of West Coast Canada with my best friend. In addition, after the salmon and halibut practically leapt out of the ocean into my arms, I definitely feel more like a legitimate BCer.
Dolpins, whales, eagles, crabs, rock-cod, seals, a black bear and (unfortunately) mosquitoes rounded out the experience. Unforgettable.
|Catch & release the lady-crabs on the coast|
In November, I visited Jeremy, Tepita and Faramir in Gatineau, QC (Ottawa).
|Jeremy, Faramir & Tepita|
Faramir is so full of energy and enthusiasm and is an adorable (but burly) cuddler. My brother is a lucky man to have found such a kind-hearted and beautiful wife. They always make me feel so special when I visit.
|Faramir and I feed the wildlife at Parc Omega|
I was also able to make a side-trip to Niagara Falls to visit my friend Doug Smith. At 94 years of age, he proved to be an excellent host and tour-guide. We met years ago when he came to take a tour flight where I first worked as a pilot. To accord him the respect deserving of a WWII pilot, I made sure he got the co-pilot seat! We have been pen-pals ever since.
|With Doug at the falls|
This year I spent Christmas day working with new friends, co-workers and guests at the CMH Monashee lodge. A fun crew for sure.
Luckily I was still able to send season's cheer to my family and my love via internet-phone. We are spoiled by technology! Christmas with Mom, Dad, Kenai and Mistaya happened a few days later. I think the animals are still recovering from their Christmas costume torture.... We waited another couple of days for Mom's xmas dinner til my man and his dad could make it. It was worth the wait. The turkey, and the company.
|Us McLean girls just love dressing up for Christmas!|
And now, here's to 2014! May yours be full of laughter, adventure, joy, magic, love and inspiration!
|Sunset enroute home from Bella Cola in September|