In September of 2005 when I decided to retire, the Epiphany came in two parts. One part was that my winter work paid for...well, work (apartment, gas etc) and that getting rid of both would be a wash. The other part of it was watching the aftermath of Katrina and feeling the way so many people felt that we had to collectively step up and help the recovery effort. Seeing the world was and is great. Hiking has been a real pass ion of mine the last twenty years or so but what gave the whole enterprise some semblance of a noble purpose was Katrina.
So it is with some sadness that I realized the time had come to move on. Businesses have returned, the Saints have given the region a sense of pride and resurgence. Local government is back to its lowdown ways and the need for a food pantry is more or less that of any other American city. Most clients' circumstances have improved so that other than trying to score a free turkey for Thanksgiving there isn't a lot of interest. In the grand scheme of things, this is good. The region has recovered and they can take it from here. But it's a little sad to say goodbye to such a unique moment in American life when ordinary people stepped up and helped their fellow citizens when the government failed.