Holiday Letter 2000
- 259 Blakeland Drive
Spring Creek, NV 89815
30 December 2000
Dear Friends and Family,
In keeping with my one-year old tradition of writing a "holiday letter"
rather than Christmas cards, I send you this with best wishes for the New
Year. The old one passed so quickly, but I will negotiate fuzzy memories
and update you as well as possible.
My work with the US Forest Service continues to be interesting and
challenging. Other duties were placed on my plate as I tried to finish
documenting our historic buildings and evaluating them for historic
significance. Our Deputy Forest Supervisor asked me to serve as Team Leader
of an interdisciplinary team in conducting a watershed analysis and develop
a master recreation plan for Lamoille Canyon. Since one doesn't say no to
such requests, I quickly learned what a watershed analysis is. The canyon,
located near Elko, is a beautiful and popular recreation area that is home
to alpine vegetation, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and several species of
rare birds. It was a pleasure to work with the team, which consisted of
several specialists. As a result, I've learned a tremendous amount about
hydrology, geology, wildlife biology, fisheries, and general ecology.
Working with people in different disciplines is really stimulating and one
of the advantages of working for the Forest Service.
Part of the summer was taken up with firefighting work. As you may know, it
was a terrible year for fires and all employees (even architectural
historians) were called on to help. I pulled some long shifts at the
Interagency Fire Dispatch, which proved to be fascinating and educational.
Unfortunately, a helicopter crashed and a young man was killed during my
first shift. In the coming year, I hope to get my "red card," which will
allow me to work in the fire camps. This will require a 1-week firefighting
course and a fitness test. (I'm really worried about the latter, as I've
been sitting on my butt for way too long.)
Most recently, I've been consumed by historic research on a road that was
washed out in a 1995 flood. Thrilling, I know. Actually, this road has
been in the national news (even NPR) because Elko County claims it is their
road because it was there before the National Forest was created. As a
result, the county states, they can rebuild it without taking the National
Environmental Protection Act or the Endangered Species Act into
consideration. I won't go into the details, but my role has been to
determine if the road was there before the forest was established in 1905.
I've really enjoyed researching and writing about it, but am now a bit
stressed because I've been designated an expert witness. I'll make a
presentation in a Reno court on January 17 at a "settlement conference."
This is a last ditch effort before litigation. While the title of "expert
anything" may be desirable under normal circumstances, I'd love to be
without it in this matter.
On a final note regarding work, I was happy to be offered a job as Regional
Architectural Historian. This is a permanent position (I was a temporary
employee for the past 2.5 years) and a promotion. I'll work in the
Intermountain Region office of the Forest Service in Ogden, Utah and plan on
moving there in March or April. I've spent a good deal of time in Ogden and
really enjoy it. It is home to Weber State University and is near Salt Lake
City, which also has a university and a major airport. The job will
certainly be interesting, as I will cover all the national forests in Utah,
Nevada, southern Idaho, southern Wyoming and a small part of California.
There is a very special man in my life these days. His name is Hans and
he's director of the computer division at one of the large gold mining
companies in Elko. He grew up in a military family so has lived in several
places, including Taiwan and Chile. (It's rare to find someone in Elko
County who has actually left the state.) Anyway, we have a lot of fun
together and I look forward to spending more time with him.
Hans, his two kids (10 and 16), and I went to visit Hans' best friend for
Thanksgiving. His friend lives in Wyoming and works for the Forest Service.
We had a great time traveling around the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The wildlife there is incredible: large herds of antelope, numerous deer,
and the occasional sightings of elk and moose.
About a month ago, the owners of the little historic house I was renting
sold it and I had to move out. I really miss its coziness, the wood stove,
the lovely back yard with the cherry trees, and the quirkiness unique to
older homes. I especially miss my neighborhood: the little girls who often
stopped by for candy or to make cookies and my next-door neighbors who had
become like family to me. Since I'm moving to Ogden in March, I'm staying
with Hans in the interim.
Presently I am visiting my mother and stepfather in Warrenton, Virginia for
the holidays. My sister-in-law, niece and nephew surprised me with a visit.
The twins are 9 years old now - I hadn't seen them since they were six.
After Christmas, Mom and I drove down to Roanoke to visit my brother Jim and
his family. Their two kids are growing so fast and it was a pleasure to see
On New Year's Day, Mom and I leave for Ireland. We originally planned to go
to the Caribbean but finally admitted that we wouldn't enjoy sitting on the
beach for a week (maybe a day). We considered Puerto Rico, since it has a
lot of history, culture and sites to visit, but dismissed it when we
couldn't find a reasonable price. In our searching, we came across a good
deal to Ireland that includes airfare, rental car and bed-and-breakfasts.
Of course, it's in the dead of winter (cold, wet, dark), but we're tough.
If nothing else, we'll spend our time in the pubs with pints of Guiness.
Well, that's all the news for now. May you have a happy and prosperous year
2001. I'll probably have a guest room once I move to Ogden, so feel free to
call if you're in the area.
With warmest regards,
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