2020 Hindsight

2020 Hindsight

What a year. On January 1, 2020, few of us had any idea what was coming. And frankly, I'd say we still don't know much about what we've been through or when it ends or what it means in the long run. But if you're reading these words, congratulations! We survived! We're the lucky ones.

I usually do a blog post or Twitter thread of fun favorite photos at the end of the year. But this year feels different, and fun doesn't apply very often. At the same time, it's been such an unusual year that I want to document a few things while they're fresh in my mind. So without further ado, I'll bid adieux to 2020 with a few photos and memories for each month of this crazy year.


The Resolution Run "polar plunge" at Seattle's Magnuson Park (Lake Washington) on January 1 was a refreshing way to start 2020. Here's the thing about polar plunges: water never gets below 32 ℉, so they're pretty much all the same. I had done a polar plunge in Antarctica the year before, and the water temperature was almost exactly the same for that one.

The main thing on our minds going into 2020 was the fact we'd decided to get another dog. Three dogs would mean we'd have our hands full, especially with a puppy.

The Navajo Nation rez dogs were fascinating to me. We came across these two while driving our rental SUV on a dirt road, miles from human habitation.

We had planned our Southwest trip for just before picking up Nancy the puppy, thinking that we'd be staying close to home for a while once the the puppy arrived. We had no idea.

Jamie's expression, roughly translated: are you sure this is the year we should be getting a puppy?!
Nancy and Strummer sleeping under the stars in Montana.


February was – and still is – the month of many pre-pandemic "lasts."

Jamie and Alice settled in to life with Nancy the puppy.


Over the weekend, while staying with a friend out in the country near Three Forks, we decided to make an offer on a big 1917 Craftsman, the last place we had toured on Friday. Then I drove Megan to the Bozeman airport, where she flew back to Seattle to leave for Africa the next morning on a long-planned trip with my mother. If that trip had been scheduled for just a few days later, they probably wouldn't have gone, but on that weekend there was only one confirmed coronavirus death so far in the US.

On March 16, I picked up Megan and Mom at deserted Sea-Tac airport. The world was a different place than when they left the country two weeks before.

In late March, our offer on the Butte house was accepted! Exciting news, and with the increasingly stringent lockdown things were getting complicated. Montana implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine for out of state visitors, and we decided to rent a U-Haul three weeks before our closing date and pack up and get to Butte sooner rather than later. We found a dog-friendly AirBnB and started handling the myriad details of coordinating a cross-country move.


April is just a blur, in hindsight. I think I'm still catching up on sleep from that month.

Nancy enjoys living an hour away from her brother Strummer. We get them together every week or two on average.
A fortune from Pekin Noodle Parlor, the oldest Chinese restaurant in the United States.
The parlor is our favorite room. This is on the day we took possession, and a lot has changed since then.
We spent two weeks sleeping on a mattress in the living room, until the rest of our furniture arrived from Seattle.


We had Bekins move the rest of our furniture and belongings, and it all arrived in the first week of May. The movers dumped it all in the living room, and we moved everything from there. Within a few days, we were feeling moved in, and sore.

Chipping away at moving chores the first few days after everything arrived.
I chose an upstairs bedroom for my office, and Megan chose a basement bedroom at the far end of the house. We signed up for Spectrum's 1-GB cable internet service, and ran CAT7 cables throughout the house. We were able to work right away, but it took months to get things set up the way we wanted.
We had the house painted right away (it needed it), just white everywhere for now. We've since had many windows replaced, and next spring we'll be dealing with window trim, gutters and downspouts, and a large back yard remodeling project.
Fox and deer are common sights around Butte. We saw a video of two moose running around the Wal-Mart parking lot last year, but haven't seen anything like that ourselves yet.


By June, we felt like locals. No fenced yard this year, so we had to take the dogs out for walks often, but everyone enjoys that.



We also had a visit from our friend Jack and his dog Bonny, who were taking a road trip in their RV. Jamie and Alice met Bonny many years ago, so it was a nice reunion for them.


We ended September with a fun overnight trip to a lookout cabin up near the Canadian border. You can find all the details in the McGuire Lookout blog post.


October was my busiest work month of the year, and between that and the shorter daylight hours we didn't get out nearly as much as over the summer.

In mid-October the temperature dropped to below 0 for a while, but since then the temperature has stayed above 0. January is typically the coldest month, and Butte has gotten below -50 in the past, so we'll see how it goes.


In November it was my Mom's turn to visit. We all quarantined for two weeks, then I drove to Seattle to pick her up on a weekend, and we all drove her back the following weekend. It was colder than Lynn's visit and the days were shorter, but we managed to get down to Bannack and see a few other sights as well.

Mom and I went to Bozeman and found the house we lived in when I was born. Mom and Dad rented the top floor of this house while he was getting his engineering degree at Montana State. It's a mattress store now.
After driving Mom back to Seattle, we had a quiet Thanksgiving at home. (Nancy appears twice in this photo due to Photoshop trickery.)
A snow squall on the last day of November. Butte rarely gets a large accumulation of snow, but brief intense flurries are common, often with high winds, as is common at nearly 6000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains.


A night walk with Jamie and Nancy near Big Butte Hill. FYI, the city of Butte was named after the hill and not the other way around – before anybody lived here, white people had named that hill Big Butte. It's less than a mile distance and about 700 feet of elevation change from our front door to the top of the hill.
Nancy and Strummer got spayed/neutered in December, and both bounced back quickly. This was their reunion after not seeing each other for a month.

Looking Forward

View from the bedroom window at midnight on December 31, 2020. The bars closed at 10PM, but the fireworks stands were open this week, and Butte had non-stop fireworks all over town, all evening long.

It's been an amazing year for us, with changes that go far beyond dealing with the pandemic. Butte is a town we've admired for many years, and it already feels like home. We love living this close to nature, seeing wild animals every day, and it's endlessly fascinating to be surrounded by so much history. We've read several books each about Butte and related topics already, and there are piles of Butte history books waiting in the parlor. For those who don't know: Butte is the largest National Historic District in the US, with over 6000 places in this county on the National Register of Historic Places.

We won't be going anywhere for a long time due to the pandemic, so in the spring we're planning an upgrade to our back yard to get ready for Summer 2021.

Happy New Year, and we hope everyone enjoys 2021 as much as we plan to!