My Nephew Paul gave me a bumper sticker which has been on the rear of my blue Ford Focus all year, “Hindsight 2020”.  A bit of an election message, and worth a ponder as this crazy year comes to an end.

Skiing up Jim Creek the other day to look for the third time at an absolutely astounding blow-down of at least 2 square miles of timber during a September maelstrom, I realized this has actually been a good year for me.  My house is standing, neither blown down by a hurricane nor burned up in either of the two fires which bracketed the Fraser Valley for most of the summer and fall.

My construction business was good.  We valley folk are graced with tons of open space to disperse across our very large home range.  My sons both are employed, Forest with Lockheed Martin in Denver and Skyler with his own Steamboat projects and helping me with many of my projects here. In short, I have a warm home, two great sons and a full larder.  Fortunate indeed.

My future is exciting. I have turned down two major projects for 2022 – making the firm vow this coming summer will be my last working full time. Never fear, if you are living in or with one of my many projects – I’m keeping my tools, contacts with my subcontractors and will ride to the rescue should problems arise.

My hope for “retirement” is to travel more, work on my own projects and find more time for my political pursuits.  As good friend Tim Hodson told me last week, “We’ve been borrowing from Mother Nature too long, it is time to start paying back.”  It is clear we are overdrawn on our earth account; Hindsight 2020 tells us a foreclosure on our Earthly home is not a pretty picture.

My six-year role as a Fraser Town Trustee is hopefully entering its final two years of heavy lifting.  We have hired an interim Town Manager who can help us resolve some serious upcoming land use issues. My hope continues to be to help a good team shepherd our rapidly growing community to remain a mountain town we can all be proud of and can afford to live in.

My role with Huts will continue to be a central part of my life.  The High Lonesome has enjoyed its busiest year ever after having to shut town for three months this past spring.  The Broome Hut has also been busy – both continue to be great refuges from an increasingly crazy world.  Planning for the next Grand Huts cabin has been on a bit of a pause as we all find our feet again, but it is plain our mission has taken on renewed importance.

The toughest challenge I face though is as President of the Upper Colorado River Watershed Group.  My board member Dave Troutman has a theory which is tough to prove but certainly makes sense. He maintains nearly 100 years of the eastern slope removing up to 80% of the water from our watershed (combined of course with the current mega drought we are in the midst of) has dried out the landscape.  In fact, the East Troublesome Fire incinerated willows and grasses in wetlands, leaving nothing but blackened parking lots where there had been verdant river bottoms.

My talented UCRWG Board and our Administrative director, Lisa Caruana, are up to the challenge of facing down the powers that be which have been working diligently to ensure we are not successful in our efforts to help save the Upper Colorado River.  As we work to gain momentum, we are staying alive despite these efforts, but just barely. 

I also want to concentrate more on my writing.  In case you might enjoy a bit of holiday reading, I’ve attached three of my columns written in 2020 for our struggling local paper, the Winter Park Times. The first is the New Year’s column and a look at how UCRWG might help in fire recovery this sprint, the second is an idea for how to “fix” Shadow Mountain Reservoir and the third is a remembrance of meeting Neil Armstrong – 2020 was of course the 50th anniversary of the footprints he left on the moon. 

Some serious stuff, thanks once again for bearing with me. I hope to find more time in “retirement” for recreating.  I continue to trek off regularly alone into the woods on skis, astride my bike and on foot.  If you are concerned for my well-being – feel free to join me.  My house is your house, I know a cabin or two in the woods.  I would love nothing more than to share adventures with you, my friends – come visit anytime.

Here’s to working together to create a more peaceful and loving 2021.  Andy