Two years ago I heard someone say that the person who succeeds in these times is the one that remains fluid and adaptable. I wish I remember where I heard it, that observation has proven to be absolutely accurate. Twenty twenty one came on with a lot of promise. After a year of being cooped up, we may have piled our expectations on a bit heavy. It became clear as the pandemic persisted that this year would be one of advances and retreats, not the rebound to normalcy we may have craved.

I tried my best to bend, not snap. And if we’re being honest, the forced isolation and push to a more personal, transient life felt quite natural. I was allowed to do what I always felt a bit guilty wanting, living a quiet life, mostly outdoors, a bit separate from the pack. We put our camper to good use and revisited our favorite parks and trails. Wandering aimlessly among the trees has always been my preferred way to spend free time. That’s not to say I didn’t miss visiting friends and family, we did the best we could with porch beers and driveway Thanksgiving.

The year wasn’t all hiding in isolation. Summer brought an end to a very frustrating year of remote schooling, my son and I both needed a break. It’s unrealistic to expect a 12-year-old to self-monitor and remain attentive staring into the screen that also holds all the things he’d rather be doing. It’s also unrealistic for a 45-year-old. I’ve already checked my email twice and read three articles while typing these three paragraphs. I caught myself lecturing about the likelihood of my child growing up to work at a gas station. I went full on dad. With the vaccines flowing, we found it possible and probably necessary to move about freely again. Time for an adventure.

Oliver and I loaded up the Element and spent the next 12 days exploring, skipping across National Parks and Preserves, sleeping off backwoods forestry roads, and taking pictures of every National Monument, mountain, bison, or dilapidated building we could find. We may also be responsible for the migration of Brood X with several stowaway cicadas escaping our vehicle at every stop. I guess we’ll know for sure in 17 years, well past the statute of limitations. We made it as far as Yellowstone, 4,100 miles and 8 states in total.

We had a lot of plans that were dashed by the shutdown, it was time to burn through some soon-to-expire airline vouchers. To make up for the idle time, I let loose this summer and hit Philadelphia with the fam, an anniversary trip to St. Augustine, some time with the boys in Joshua Tree, and back home before the Omicron variant decided to shake things up again. It felt great to get out there.

Professionally I stayed as busy as I could. With concerts and full-scale events still not really a thing, a shift in focus was necessary. I’ve been adding a few new tricks to my arsenal, we’ll get to see the fruits of those in the next review. Polly Magazine did all we could to get our pandemic-delayed Issue 07 out a few days before 2020 wrapped. With our attention on a more robust digital focus in 2021, I rebuilt our website to cleanly house the incoming content. I also found time to catch up with our friends at The Whispering Beard and got to hang out with the immensely talented Keith Neltner of Neltner Small Batch. In true going-back-home-to-Kentucky fashion, we discovered that we share a common great great grandfather whom Keith has recently immortalized with a small batch whiskey in partnership with our friends Second Sight Spirits.

All in all, it was a good year. Maybe not the return to normal so many were looking for, but a step in the right direction. Maybe this is what normal looks like now. I’m perfectly fine with a little slower, a little less, but more intentional. It’s interesting that after all the time I had to sit and reflect, it was really difficult to sit and write it out. The new normal is going to need a new system of motivation. While I figure it all out, it’s really nice to mingle again. I hope to see you all out there soon.
12 days - 8 states - 4,100 miles