Early last year, Melissa and I decided that 2017 would be our personal Year of the Mountain. We’d spent a lot of 2016 in flattish places, so we were yearning to see high things on the horizon. We’re usually lousy at keeping New Year’s resolutions, but we did a good job with that one: In 2017, we lived among the mountains and hills of northern Mallorca; southern Spain; central Switzerland; the Austrian Tyrol; Asheville, North Carolina; and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Since late November, we’ve spent most of our time in Chattanooga, a pleasant mid-size city in the southern United States surrounded by high ridges (so we’re still among mountains). It’s beastly hot and buggy in the summer but nice this time of year. Chattanooga is the hometown of Melissa’s mother, whom we’ve been helping with various challenges. We got her packed and moved into the apartment she chose at a senior-living community on top of Signal Mountain. Then we moved into her little house at the base of the mountain.
For months, our life has revolved around clearing out her excess possessions, getting her house repaired and ready to sell, and helping her deal with numerous health problems. At last her house is almost ready to put on the market, so we’ve leased a small apartment in the city for a few months. It’s in a walkable part of downtown Chattanooga, close to restaurants, museums, a cinema, and a gym, so we feel a bit like urban vagabonds again. When we can get away, we pay short visits to Washington, DC, to catch up with our loved ones there.
Looking ahead, we’ve set three travel goals for 2018: spend time at a good swimming beach, go back to Europe for the summer, and travel somewhere new and exotic. We’re on track with the second goal, having arranged repeats of last year’s housesits in Rome and Lucerne, Switzerland. For the new and exotic, we’re eyeing a visit to Taiwan in the fall; it’s an island we’ve read and heard so many good things about. With luck, maybe we’ll find a good swimming beach in Southeast Asia to tack on to that trip.
In the meantime, though, the house chores beckon.