From smelting the Pilgrim River and canoeing the Sturgeon to simply relaxing by the bonfire at Camp Kukamonga, it's been quite a journey "Kickin' Back" and sharing with readers some of my most-liked pasttimes in the great outdoors.
I say this simply because I'm about to take on a new adventure outside of The Daily Mining Gazette and want to extend a sincere thank you to all who have followed me in my journey.
It hasn't quite sunk in just yet - knowing this Monday will be my last Monday here at the DMG.
The geek in me even wanted to know how many days have passed since I started Oct. 18, 2004. Just for the heck of it, I Googled "day counter" and sure enough, there is such a thing.
According to timeanddate.com, it will be 2,896 days, or seven years, 11 months and four days, come Friday - my last day.
Where does the time go?
I'll never forget my first couple of assignments - a feature on the fall color season and a more news-oriented piece pertaining to some sewage situation. I remember trucking through a light dusting of snow with the photographer, searching for evidence of the latter. What a treat.
Maybe that's what's so great about being a reporter. You never know what kind of story you're going to track down next.
Myself, having written a handful of business stories for the better part of my tenure, I've gone from writing about (dryer) lint removal services and refrigerator repair to features on new restaurants. It's kept me on my toes, that's for sure.
There's no doubt this line of work has its perks. Take, for example, the Hometown Heroes concert when SheDaisy performed in 2007. Being the reporter on the scene, I stood stage-side, an arm's-length away, snapping up-close photos. Not only did I get to hang backstage, but I hopped on their tour bus for an interview afterward.
Not to mention this year, I took to the skies in a two-seater with a member of the Civil Air Patrol. It was the smallest plane I'd ever been in.
Having the opportunity to go behind the scenes is also a bonus.
One particular story that comes to mind is the mock disaster drill at Houghton County Memorial Airport, during which local media got to stand close enough to feel the overspray from the fire hoses putting out the flames.
Another is the sugar bush program at the Ford Center in Alberta. I tagged along with more than 100 youngsters, learning the process of making maple syrup and then sampling it.
Every day brings new stories and the occasional longer-than-expected shift.
That's one thing I'm not going to miss - my alarm buzzing in my ear at 3 a.m. just to make a morning deadline.
But then again, there's lots I am going to miss. First and foremost, my co-workers, who feel more like family than colleagues. While I've seen some come and go, there's quite a few who have been here for the long haul.
And how could I forget the food.
From our office potlucks to our Friday night finger-foods, we had some darn good eats.
What can I say? It has been quite a ride.
So I thank you again for your kind words and constructive criticisms over the course of my near eight-year career here at the Gazette. It's a journey I will never forget.
Kelly Fosness can be reached at kfosness@ mininggazette.com.