2017 in Review … The Year I Never Expected

Definitely wasn’t the year I expected but, overall, despite a health issue in May, I had a good year with many great adventures.  In December 2016 I saw that Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, BC had learn to snowshoe clinics starting the next month.  Despite generally preferring warmth over cold, I registered for the clinic.  The first session was on January 5th and I knew I had found a great new enjoyable exercise before the session was over that day.

Returning to the Grouse Mountain Chalet on my first snowshoeing day

As part of the clinic you received rental snowshoes but within 2 weeks of the first session I had bought my own pair … Tubbs Flex ALP. I now actually have 2 pairs!


From January to early April I snowshoed a total of 40 times and loved every minute.  I even did my first Snowshoe Race in February.  During this time period I also did some running and a few running races, ending with the Sun Run in April.  I definitely wasn’t fast during the races but did enjoy trying to race again.


On the way to Thunderbird Ridge

IMG_03502017 West Van Run 5k

Part of the Snowshoe Grind

At the end of April the time came for me to start a planned 27 day Driving Trip covering over 17,000 km from the West Coast to the East Coast.

2017 Trip Map August 2016

The trip started well driving down the US West Coast through Oregon and part of Northern California before heading inland and then over to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Near Florence, Oregon
Elk near Trinidad, California … the sign actually said Look for Elk here
Ludlow, California
Grand Canyon

I had hiked at the Grand Canyon last year but, due to a heat spell, hadn’t been able to do my hoped for rim to river to rim hike.  This year I came a month earlier and hoped to do that hike but once again too high temperatures made that not a good choice.

The first day I was there I walked along the rim to the South Kaibab trailhead and then took the shuttle bus back to the Village.

The second day, on May 6th, I hiked down Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden (where I turned around last year) and then decided to continue on to Plateau Point … a great scenic addition to the hike.  I had a great time and felt good the entire hike.  I actually felt much better than I did last year which, given what happened one week later, was surprising!

On the trail to Plateau Point
Colorado River looking down from Plateau Point
On the way back from Plateau Point

The next day I left the Grand Canyon and drove through Utah on my way to Yellowstone National Park.  While I had some minor car trouble, fortunately where I had cell service, my trip was not delayed at all.

Monument Valley, Utah
Church Rock near Monticello, Utah
Wilson Arch
Wilson Arch, Utah
Union Pacific in Utah

I spent a full day at Yellowstone walking around the geysers near Old Faithful Inn where I stayed.

Old Faithful Inn
Bison near Old Faithful
Early morning friends as I left Yellowstone

After leaving Yellowstone I continued east across the prairies to Green Bay, Wisconsin.  On the way I visited Badlands National Park … a wonder well worth visiting!


After Green Bay I drove to Akron, Ohio and life changed!  While unloading my car I experienced severe gasping for breath.  The hotel called 911 and I ended up first in a nearby clinic before being transferred to Akron General downtown.  While in the clinic I was diagnosed with pulmonary emboli in both lungs and placed on a blood thinner … below is my hospital room.


Fortunately it appears that my case was relatively mild given the problems many people have with clots.  I was actually discharged the same day I arrived in the hospital, flew home the next day and saw my Doctor a couple of days later.  Over the next 4 months I had numerous tests before my hematologist said they couldn’t find any underlying cause (a good thing).  She also highly recommended that I remain on medication for the rest of my life … I wasn’t having any side effects and if untreated, given my sex and age, I would have a 30% chance of a reoccurrence within 5 years … not a good risk to take.

Fortunately I had started feeling “normal” very quickly and was back to 2+ hour walks within  4 weeks.  I started running again in July and from a physical standpoint feel better now than I did before the clots happened.  But the new reality is 2 pills a day, every day … fortunately iPhone and Apple Watch alarms work wonderfully for reminding me to take my medication.

During the summer I did a Photography Clinic at Grouse Mountain … fun to do and some great photos as a result.

Watching You
Watermelon Snack Time
Judge Dredd, a turkey vulture, at Grouse Mountain


Even won a prize … used it when I bought a Garmin InReach Explorer

I have found that having a health issue, even if you have recovered, does change your viewpoint on how to live your life.  While even before the clots I tried to “live every moment” after the clots this belief has been magnified.  One result was that I finally did a will, saw what I had and realized that you can’t take it with you when you die so enjoy life now!

I had already planned to upgrade my iPad to the iPad Pro when it was released, and I did in June.  But in August I decided that I still wanted to driving trips in the future and I bought a new car … a 2017 Honda CR-V.  I previously had a 1998 Honda CR-V but what a difference in technology over 19 years!

My old 1998 CR-V on the left, my new 2017 CR-V on the right
Just before I drove away with my new car

In recognition of my medication I did finally order, and now wear daily, a Road ID tag on my Apple Watch band and a Road ID dog tag.  Until now, like many runners, I have never run with identification … I now always walk or run or hike or snowshoe with ID.  One other addition to my “safety” net was the purchase of a Garmin Satellite Messenger which works worldwide and doesn’t depend on cellular service.


I also upgraded my old iPhone 6 to iPhone 8 Plus (what a great camera) and my original Apple Watch to the new LTE Series 3 (what a great battery).

In November I did my first trip since the clots in May … 4 weeks in Waikiki with no health issues, sunshine, warmth and lots of exercise walking or running around Diamond Head.

A view I always enjoy … Diamond Head from in front of the Outrigger Reef


So many beautiful sunrises

I returned from Hawaii and 4 days later was at Grouse Mountain for my first snowshoeing of this season.

Looking up the trail the first time this Winter Season

Overall, even with my clots, I had a good enjoyable year and look forward to many more adventures in the future.  I have a short driving trip planned to Yellowstone (snowshoeing and hopefully lots of animal viewing) in February and then a longer driving trip in May (back to the Grand Canyon to try my hike again and then to Vermont).

For 2018 my hopes are for continued good health with lots of walking/running/snowshoeing/hiking and my primary goal is to be aware of, and enjoy, every moment of every day.

Happy New Year!

5 thoughts

  1. It certainly was quite the year for you! You know about much of mine, so I’m not sorry to see 2017 end…but it ended on a different note than expected. At 6 pm on New Years’ Eve, I asked Rachael to check something on my back. Within an hour, I’d been to a clinic and already had my medications…for shingles! Oh well, looking forward to 2018!! Being January 1, I’m happy to say that today is Clara’s 2 1/2 birthday!!!

  2. My goodness Rick, what a life you lead and not wasting a minute. I understand how a health issue can change one’s life and thankfully the one you experienced did not slow you down but, perhaps, made your life more full. The photos are spectacular — the bear for instance, almost appears like a painting, and yet to have seen these creatures in person, well, what a fantastic experience.

    I’ll look forward to reading more stories too about your snow shoeing experience. We have a friend who was trying it for the first time a week or so ago and I’ve been curious — how it differs from cross country skiing (besides the equipment) for instance.

    Warm wishes to you as you continue your exciting journey. Thank you also for the follow. 🙂

    1. Thanks. I have only cross country skied once … last year in Yellowstone the package I registered for included a cross country ski lesson and then a 5 mile trip. I found it much easier to quickly learn the snowshoe technique while the cross country ski technique was much harder for me but I had never skied before … members of the group who had skied found the technique easier to pick up. Balance on snowshoes is much easier. But I did enjoy the experience overall. I posted another snowhoe story today.

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