“I thought, where do I want to move next?” pondered Lombardo. “Then I thought, why would I want to move at all? Sometimes when you go to the grocery store you have trouble getting out of it, because you’re seeing this person, you’re gabbing with that person.”
Now, she has become intricately involved with the Moab community and has no plans to ever leave. “It really has a nice feel to it. This hometown. People know each other,” she explained. “You come into the Red Rock Bakery, and there’s usually someone you know and you give them a hug.”
Lombardo was not always certain it would be that way. When she first moved to Moab, it was to join her parents, Ralph and Jane Herrick. “My father retired from the service, and in 1969 he and my mom and brother came to Moab,” Lombardo said. “And I eventually followed them over.”
When Lombardo arrived in Moab, her father was a well-known character in the area. “He got to know the community very well then,” Lombardo said. “In fact when I moved to Moab, my mother said to me, ‘They don’t know me by Jane. They only know me as Ralph’s wife.’ And I said that’s not going to happen to me.”
Lombardo’s intentions did not pan out as planned. “When I would introduce myself, I would say, ‘Hi I’m Andrea,’ and this blank look would come across their faces, and I’d go, ‘I’m Ralph’s daughter.’ So I gave up.”
Her father made a name for himself in Moab by operating ‘Ralph’s Sew and Vac’ out of the back of his house, and working for the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy. “He so identified with working, no matter what that was,” Lombardo said.
“He was ninety and The Nature Conservancy laid him off. He was devastated. He said ‘they fired me!’ He was ninety!” Lombardo seems to have inherited her father’s sense of industrialism. She operated a business out of her house until she retired three years ago, and since then has spent her time getting involved in Moab’s community, constantly trying new things.
“The longer I’ve been in Moab, the more I appreciate the nuances and joys,” Lombardo said. She has become an avid hiker in the area by participating in the Sierra Club. Constantly exploring new areas, she said, “I would have to say 99.9 percent of them I go on, I say ‘this one, this is my favorite hike ever!’ And I’ve gone on some new ones this year. I’d never been up to left hand before.” In addition to hiking, Lombardo volunteers her time for several local organizations. “I have tried other things because I don’t feel like just making myself happy all the time. I like to help, and I’m trying to find my passion in that,” she explained.
Volunteering for Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation, Lombardo works for Debbie Souza-Pappas. For the organization, Lombardo receives calls to pick up injured or abandoned animals in need of help. “If somebody finds an owl in Monticello that’s been hit by a car, Debbie calls me up, I run to Monticello and pick the owl up and drive it to Green River, where someone will pick it up and bring it to Debbie,” Lombardo explained. She has gotten calls about prairie dogs, rabbits, robins, crows, eagles, owls and more.
“Sometimes you have to go out and you have to capture these animals,” she said. “Blankets are good. Make sure you put on gloves. I have long gloves that go up to my shoulders.” Sometimes, Lombardo cares for the animals until a long-term solution is found. “Things that just need nurturing, Debbie knows how to take care of them, she tells me how to take care of them, and then I will take care of them.”
When she’s not helping animals, Lombardo gets involved with the people of Moab. One day a week, Lombardo answers the phone for Sara Melnicoff of Moab Solutions, attempting to help those who call in with a need. “I learned so much about the community working with Sara. Sara gives me that avenue into the people and the community and what needs help,” she explained. “These people need help. How can we help? What can we do as a community to help? And that to me, is huge.”
In her retirement, Lombardo is working on finding the balance between taking care of others and exploring new possibilities for herself. “I keep myself very busy. I want to do everything, but of course I just can’t,” she said. “I’ve only been retired three years, and I like to play.” For fun, Lombardo, who has no previous experience playing musical instruments, has taken up Taiko drumming. “Over at the park, I listened to them, and I thought it was really cool,” she explained as to how she became involved in Taiko.
After that, she began taking lessons. “It’s very good physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You’re supposed to ‘kakegoe,’ which is yell. I was taught when I was young not to yell. It takes practice to do that because I don’t yell.”
Taiko drumming is only one of the ways in which Lombardo sees endless possibilities in Moab, due to its close-knit, yet open-minded community.
“It’s a smaller community ... when you’re on the stage at Swanny Park drumming, you look out and see everyone you know,” she explained. “I was thinking that when you’re on a cruise ship, you can run around in a bathing suit and barefoot if you want to, and you can go out in your high heels all dressed up if you want to. Moab feels like that.
“If you want to get out there and hike and run the river, you can do that. If you want to do something else, you can do that. If you want to volunteer and be part of the community, you can do that. It really is a community that, if you need to plug into it, its there to plug into.”