Man, oh man, one year breezes by when every week feels like the best week of your life. It is surreal to think about our last year, traveling around the West.
We’ve seen and learned so much, and grown in ways that are likely hard to measure just yet. Gabe’s height and shoe size is a tangible reminder for me every day! These kids are different. We are different.
I’ve realized that I am such a romantic, a “pretty places” chaser. I have itchy ears for great hikes, views, waterfalls, and secret spots. And while I am a planner by nature, I’ve learned how much more fun and free it is to play life “by ear.” (as our friend Doug coined) I don’t worry as much about tomorrow – I am eager to see which people and destinations life sends our way. I could not have “planned” a more meaningful year.
The kids have grown deeper in their friendship, love, and understanding of each other. They’ve become more eager to jump into new friendships after meeting so many cool people all around. We’ve worked hard – “work first, play second” was a great mantra we learned. We’ve lived in tight spaces without driving each other too crazy, learning how to forgive, receive grace and start over. The kids have gained new skills, like snowboarding, navigating maps and trails, being great houseguests, blogging, and working in any coffee shop or park. Gabe captured a great list of things he’s learned this year on his own site.
As we reflect on this year, we are also most grateful for all the friends we got to connect with. We weren’t expecting that. We thought we were leaving all our friends. But we met up with so many more! Those people made our memories a million times richer. People like Ellen Newhouse, Doug Laity, the Leepers, Clarks, Melchers, Cole/Barnes, Winns, Winslows, Maculleys, Halls, Thorntons, Holgates, Badgers, Feibush’s, Olsons, and Bartletts. Thank you for your hospitality and friendship!!
And we are huge fans of the National Park System like never before. Yes, put them all on your bucket list! Each one was so unique, so much to learn and see. We are grateful for people who work to preserve these natural refuges. Glacier, Zion, Yosemite, and Olympic topped our list, but we truly loved them all.
But our trip was so much more than just visiting National Parks and checking off places on our bucket list. We really sought out to live a nomadic lifestyle where we could really enjoy cities as “locals” rather than tourists. Where we could work, learn, and play. Live in a home and community. Get to know people and go deep quick. We fell in love with this way of living, so much so that we would like to keep living this “blended” life of ours.
We decided to regroup first for 3 months in our old neighborhood in Austin – seeing special friends, and dealing with the last remaining items we held onto before our quick move last year. It’s been a treat.
I have to admit that we are a bit sad to have to pause our travels. When we were driving back into Texas, I felt like a big freight train putting on its breaks, coming to a railway stop, the slowing down of momentum causing such jostled emotions inside. I knew it would be so wonderful to see family and friends again, but we all knew we’d miss the mountains and the adventure. I cried, of course.
Many people have asked us upon our return, “So, how was your trip?” For some reason, “Awesome” and “Amazing” just quite don’t cut it. But they get pretty close. 😉