Home is Where My Heart Is seemed such a fitting phrase this year as Dave & I returned in September after a nine-month Plein Air Odyssey in our RV. I was thrilled to see family and friends once again, and felt really comfortable being in a familiar place. But, thinking back on this amazing year, I can’t help but reminisce on the wonderful people I met who made me feel at home in so many places!
I am incredibly thankful for the fantastic time we had on the road from January through September, journeying from Arizona to Alaska, capturing it all in painting you can see on my Plein Air Odyssey 2013 map. We loved spending the first couple of months with our Rincon West RV Resort community in Tucson, AZ, where I painted frequently with new friends of the Tucson Plein Air Painters Society (see eleven posts).
The Second Annual Plein Air Convention in Monterey afforded another chance for me to meet up with numerous professional and personal friends. To get a little idea, check out the on-location photos shot my hubby Dave.
Our friends Terry & Sue–who really are responsible for getting us excited enough about Alaska to once again make such a long trip–traveled with us off and on. We leapfrogged up the coast of California, then spent about six weeks together island hopping from Vancouver Island in British Columbia to Ketchickan, Wrangel, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau and Haines in Alaska’s Inside Passage.
Our daughter Rebecca met us in San Francisco and spent two weeks helping Dave learn the joys of microbrewery beer as we enjoyed wineries, pubs, restaurants, and mostly urban excitement through Sonoma Valley, Portland, and Seattle. Our son Ben joined us in Anchorage and spent three weeks pushing us to new outdoors adventures like deep-sea fishing, glacier hiking, and an ATV tour as we explored the Kenai Peninsula and the MatSu Valley.
Dave’s brother Jai flew into Prince George to show “the fates” just who is boss by demonstrating a most remarkable recovery after his life-saving cardiac surgery in March. His stamina and excitement during three weeks of hiking mountain trails throughout the Canadian Rockies—often for four or five hours at a time—seemed nothing less than miraculous having seen him struggle with a single flight of stairs just six month previous.
I am also thrilled with my success in getting to know plein air painters throughout the USA and Canada on this journey, and now feel very fortunate to have numerous friends who gladly shared their best painting places, many tasty dinners and picnics, and tons of fun stories. Painting with 40 dedicated artists of the2013 Great Alaskan Plein Air Retreat, hosted by the Painted Ladies, was another highlight. The old adage about how much better travel can be when you meet a friend familiar with the destination was realized time and again as the artists that befriended me along the way treated us so incredibly well.
Our journey of about 12,500 RV miles, another 7,500 miles in the car we tow, a 3,717 mile round-trip flight between Tucson and Columbus, and about 640 nautical miles by ferry boats on the Inside Passage was unforgettable. Whew! Just to decompress on our way in, we stopped every day or two to see friends and family.
As delightful and productive as this Plein Air Odyssey 2013 was, we were very happy to spend our fall and holidays here at home, where I completed a few studio pieces and had corrective surgery on my right thumb from a hiking fall in Jasper National Park. We are especially thankful to have been blessed with an abundance of family and friends. Please know how much we appreciate your support, care, and love. You truly make the face of God present for us.
So, although I still may be confused about whether the saying should be Home is where the heart is versus Heart is where my friends are, there is one thing I know for certain: all of you who I met, painted, played, talked, ate, hiked, sang, and did so many other things with remain close to my heart wherever you are. With much love and a huge sense of gratitude to God for all the gifts we’ve given and received, and to each of you for the wonderful adventures we’ve shared, I wish peace and blessings to all throughout the new year.