Only ten days remain for 2018. Looking back, there are a handful of Western Colorado fixtures I'm truly thankful for. Here's a short list.

I can't say 2018 was the brightest year of my life. As a matter of fact, it's ending with a bit of a thud. Then again, a number of great things happened during this trip around the sun.

In no particular order, here are five things I was thankful for this year.

  • 1

    Western Colorado Jazz Orchestra

    Last night (December 20) the Western Colorado Jazz Orchestra performed our annual Christmas concert. This is always a big production. The program ran a little over 2 hours. As you can imagine, with this being an 18 piece Big Band, it takes a lot of time and effort to put on a show of this size.

    Think about that for a minute - 18 people, not all of which are from Grand Junction, getting together for several rehearsals leading up to the performance. Some of the band members commute from Aspen and Glenwood Springs. One of the members, a Grand Junction resident, is currently studying at the University of North Texas. She made the trip back to town for this show.

    This concert embraced the true spirit of Christmas. Of course, the band plays concerts year round. This final performance for 2018 simply served as a reminder of the dedication of its members.

    Scott Betts
  • 2

    Mt. Garfield

    I must of climbed this thing 50 times in 2018. It's a perfect hike. Notice I didn't say "climb." There's no climbing involved. More than anything, it's a long, steep hike. There are a handful of technical spots, but not many.

    One thing you'll learn from hiking Mt. Garfield is the fine art of pacing. If you start off fast, you'll be worn out before you hit the half-way mark. If you pace yourself, a nice steady "one-one thousand, two-one thousand" you'll maintain a constant speed, maintain your energy, and have an awesome hike.

    Sadly, my little hiking buddy passed away in 2017, so I didn't get to enjoy his company in 2018.

    Reaching the summit is not the point of this hike. Literally, getting there is the objective. If you didn't hit this hike in 2018, get there quick.

    Waylon Jordan
  • 3

    Country Jam

    For the crew here at the station, Country Jam is kind of like the Superbowl. It's the crown jewel, but it's also a stressful event. The buildup can really take a toll. Once the Jam rolls around, though, it's an amazing time to be alive.

    I've been involved with close to 30 Country Jams, and 2018 was one of my favorites. The artists were awesome. The crowd was awesome. It was fantastic thing to be a part of.

    Ray Michaels
  • 4

    Desert Flyer Band

    For some time I've had the pleasure to perform with the Desert Flyer Band. We play bars, concerts, and festivals all over Colorado. While not our busiest year, 2018 was one of our best.

    There's nothing like an ensemble when it works. This band gels like nothing else I've ever seen.

    Desert Flyer World Tour 2018 took us to Arrowhead Mountain Lodge, all over Western Colorado, Toe Jam, and more. If 2019 is anything like 2018, it will be a fantastic year.

    Tom Freeman
  • 5

    Monument Fitness

    I've become something of a gym rat in my old age. This Grand Junction area gym has become my second home.

    One of the best things about Monument Fitness would be the fact that it is a locally-owned and operated business. It's a friendly, inviting, no-drama atmosphere.

    This is a straight ahead, no-nonsense fitness facility. When you walk in, you're instantly greeted by fitness-minded people hard at work. You don't see people sitting on the machines while talking on their cell phones. Members don't lay around on the equipment while enjoying social hour with their buddies. People are their to train, and train hard.

    The valley is home to several great fitness facilities. This isn't a commercial, but rather an expression of sincere appreciation for a well-operated gym.

    Waylon Jordan