Rare Air Episode 18 and January 2017 desktop calendar

An original desktop calendar for January appears at the bottom of this post.

For Beth and me, our conjoined “life before kids” began in about 1989… and before leaving Central Florida for Southern California on New Year’s Day, 1998, we toured the Sunshine State from top to bottom. Just before Amelia arrived in 2001, we returned to the Southeast. Since staking our claim in the Blue Ridge Mountains and welcoming Riley in 2003, we and our kids have continued to experience Florida as tourists.

In our combined experiences, I think it’s safe to say that few places compare with Orlando as tourist destinations. I am still attached – apparently more than the rest of my family – to the world-class resorts and theme parks. With my Mom in tow, the kids got to experience many WDW parks, Sea World, Universal Studios, Lego Land and Busch Gardens. Riley is now 13, and every year of his life, we have headed south for Spring Break at Easter time. Gramma Lila was a main draw, and having fun with her in awesome new places at that time of year is now ingrained in us all. As we explored new realms, sampling areas on both coasts, north and south, all the way to the Keys, we eventually honed-in on the area known as the Nature Coast… and more specifically, Crystal River. The first year we went was 2009: We rented a townhouse on a canal near the Three Sisters Spring, and two kayaks were included in the rental. We were hooked! Until then, I suppose our ideas for vacation were pretty mainstream, in that we wanted to experience the resorts, thrill rides, fancy restaurants and popular beaches. In describing Crystal River to others, we often use the term “old Florida,” which refers to the fact that the natural beauty remains accessible without being over-developed or over-crowded. After that first visit, we decided to return in 2012, and we’ve gone back three of the past four years. You can see in these pictures – and in the new edition of Rare Air, captured on March 31 of this year – why the area is special to us.

Between 2009 and 2012, we didn’t return to Crystal River, and one of the reasons is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which began on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. The news coverage about the environmental impact hit us hard; it felt like an enormous tragedy, and that something very special to us had been destroyed, or would be, in the days to come.

Certainly, there was a monumental impact on the Gulf’s ecosystem. Nonetheless, when we returned to the area a couple of years later, I don’t think we could have pointed out a single aspect of what we loved about the area that was obviously affected by the man-made calamity of the dreaded oil spill. This is not to say that we didn’t see other aspects of nature that were being changed and threatened – even last year, we experienced a new attempt by the local municipality to better facilitate visitors to the Three Sisters Spring, which sadly, felt very poorly planned and managed. Still, the beauty of this area remains, it is largely persevering and enduring what time is bringing its way, and chances are good that day-to-day life is going to continue to thrive there in the future the way it has in the past. To me, this a very important idea to hold onto.

In my last entry here, I wrote that Crystal River remains a powerful source of hope for me in the aftermath of America’s 2016 general election. Although I usually try to avoid politics, it’s hard to ignore the deep disappointment of the elected government opposing my core beliefs and principles. After this last election, that is the situation we (meaning myself, Beth, Amelia, Riley, any more than 60 million voters who share our views) are facing in America. Together, we are looking for solid ground to build upon, and I am comforted thinking of Crystal River and its wildlife. Taking our inspiration where we can find it, we are steeling ourselves and forging ahead in defending what matters most to us and those people, things and values we hold dear. And in these dying words from the late Canadian politician Jack Layton, my heart finds its heading.

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

I hope you enjoy Rare Air episode 18 and this January desktop calendar… and that you’ll find what you need in the days ahead to let your spirit soar.

Featured Video: Rare Air Episode 18


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