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A Year Ago.

8 Feb

Recently we started saying things like;

“A year ago we were flying into New Zealand.”

“A year ago we were hiking the Tongariro Crossing.”

“A year ago we were kayaking in the Kenepuru Sound.”

Yesterday, one year ago, we were flying home.  We flew out of Auckland late in the evening on February 7th, and landed in San Francisco mid-morning on…February 7th.  Very time-warpish to have two full days of the same date.  We drove up the coast to the town I went to college in and proceeded to stuff our faces with burgers (real American hamburgers!) at one of my favorite local breweries.  We were a mess.  We had been wearing the same 3 outfits repeatedly and hadn’t cut our hair for over 15 months.  We felt both out of place, and totally comfortable.

The first picture of us back in the States.

The first picture of us back in the States.

It’s stunning how time can go both so fast, and so slow, all at once.  A lot has happened in the last year.  We’ve moved back to my home state.  We got our cats back from the friend who cared for them while we were away.  I’ve gone back into teaching.  Justin’s branching out and trying out new career ideas.  My youngest brother bought a house.  My other brother moved home from Thailand, and then moved back out to Indonesia.  My father was diagnosed, treated, and is recovering from cancer.  My mother walked the Camino de Santiago.   We’ve reconnected with old friends, and made some new ones.  There have been weddings and babies.  We bought a car and a season ski pass and a couch. We have settled back into a routine.

There have been lots of questions about whether we miss traveling, or New York.  The truth is that we don’t really miss anything.  I believe that if you are missing things from your past, then you probably aren’t living to your fullest potential in the moment.  We have had an amazing life so far and we hold the memories of places we’ve been and people we met in our hearts, BUT, we love  – being able to see family regularly – the mountains – having an apartment that is more than twice the size of what we had in NYC for less than half the rent – knowing that we don’t ‘need’ things to be happy – having a routine and a home that’s comfortable and safe at the end of each day – feeling purposeful in our work – taking walks in our new neighborhood and discovering our new favorite places to eat and drink and read.

We have no idea what the future holds.  We hope there are a lot more adventures left to be had, but we’re not going to spend a lot of time worrying about that.  For now, we’re happy right where we are.

RTW Travel and Priorities

5 Aug

I’ve read a lot of posts in the last few years about the kinds of internal shifts that happen to people when they travel.  I’ve also read a fair share about people who expected to come back transformed, and then were surprised when they felt like nothing much really had changed.  I didn’t anticipate a big revelation personally because, quite honestly, that occurred after my first international trip to Italy when I was just out of high school.  It was that particular trip that sparked my wanderlust, and opened my eyes to the fact that there is a lot going on outside of my little bubble.

The thing is, there’s also a lot going on inside our bubble.  We have nieces and nephews that we didn’t see for nearly two years.  That’s way too long, especially when we’re talking about young children who can change drastically in the span of just a few months.  In addition, when we returned we felt pretty out of touch with the lives of our friends.  We have a close knit group and without the daily communication that we had pre-trip, we missed a lot of the minutia of life that contributes to the deep understandings we have about each other.

The world is a huge and amazing place and we feel so blessed to be able to have seen and experienced all the things we did.  After 15 months away from it all, we are more certain than ever that all the most important things to us are right here at home.

rockymountains

Home is where the mountains are.

Just after we returned my father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and it has been a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, periods of anxious waiting, and months of chemo and radiation that will now be followed by more months of anxious waiting to see if the treatment has been effective.  I have lived at least 1000 miles away from my family for more than 15 years, and to be home for this has been another big wake up call for us.

We embarked on our journey partly because of the realization that life is precious and fleeting, and we have returned to our roots for basically the same reason.  At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many places we’ve been, or how many mountains we climbed.  What really matters is that we are surrounded by the people we love, and those who love us, because as we already knew, it can all change in an instant.

I just renewed this blog’s address because I really do plan to post more about our trip.  We never did finish the New Zealand Roundup, and I have started posts about how we kept our budget, gross things we ate and the incredible scenery we tramped through.  Not to mention that we’re not done with travel, we WILL be having more adventures in the years to come, it’s just that our priorities are elsewhere right now.  So keep us in your reader, and you’ll be hearing from us again eventually.  In the meantime, if you have any juju, thoughts, prayers, or love and light to send to my dad, we’ll take all we can get.

Image

Photo Friday- Moving in Denver

12 Apr

Photo Friday- Moving in Denver

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen all our stuff…

Reflecting and Moving On

1 Apr

Fabulous shot of our new home city by vandan desai on Flickr

A year ago today I wrote a post about the heart of why we decided to take our career break to travel around the world.  Part of me wanted to write it to answer some of the questions we’d gotten about why we wanted to take this kind of a trip in the first place.  Another part of me wrote it as a way to recognize some of the terrible moments of loss that caused us to re-evaluate our path in life.

We’re done with the trip, and in a bit of a state of limbo.  We’ve returned to my home state of Colorado, and are in the middle of the hurricane that is searching for new jobs after not working for nearly two years.

Now that we’re home, people want to know if we think we’ll miss all the travel or if we think we’ll be happy here.  I’ve learned to not anticipate how I will, or will not feel about something.  Right now I’m very happy.  I was ready to come home and see my family and friends.  I have been longing for my own space, a garden, the intellectual challenge that comes with my line of work.  Right now I don’t miss travel, but that’s partly because I know our travel will never really be done.  We’ll always have a strong sense of wanderlust, and I’m sure we’ll be travelling as frequently as we can, just as we did before this trip.

One thing I do know for sure is that we are much more focused on living the rest of our lives with as little regret as possible and we’ll continue to listen to what burns inside of us because really, those are the things our dreams are made of.

Below is our post from April 1, 2012
‘Living The Dream – Why We Chose To Leave It All Behind’

Recently we met a young couple who genuinely didn’t understand why we embarked on this huge journey.  They wanted to know why we didn’t seem to miss our clothes, our home, our ‘regular’ lives.  Why aren’t we worried about what happens when we go back, or when we run out of money?  Why aren’t we worried about our careers? Why would we choose this unstable sort of life?

These are all valid questions, and some can be answered at least partially by checking out our “About Us” section.

We’ve been on the road for almost five months and we’ve thought a lot about the things that motivate us to travel, and the reasons behind the decisions that have landed us where we are in life.

I’ve started this post a dozen different times and discarded every attempt at an answer until now.  It’s a complicated answer because life is complicated.

Why do writers write?  Why do athletes compete?  Why do artists create?  Most of them will tell you that it’s because it is their passion.  There is something that burns inside of them and says “This is what you must do”, and so they do it.  If you ask Justin if he has a burning passion for travel he’ll say no, but he does enjoy it.  If you ask me, I’ll say yes, I have a passion for travel, but it’s not all encompassing.   We have a love of the world, a desire to see new things, to immerse ourselves in different cultures, to meet new people.  Yes, it can be frustrating  to not have a huge wardrobe selection, or to have to move every few days, or to have to sleep in dorm rooms with 20 other travelers, but the benefits of what we are doing far outweigh these minor issues.

This alone might be answer enough for most people, but there is more behind it.

We’ve lived fairly comfortable lives.  We had the opportunity to earn university degrees, we had careers that we enjoyed, family and friends we love, and we could have settled comfortably into a nice routine in Colorado and lived out our lives pleasantly…but…there’s always a ‘but’.

People talk about living life to the fullest, taking advantage of every moment, every opportunity.  Most people don’t follow that philosophy in their everyday reality though.  Life is busy, things get in the way.  All those responsibilities build up and we have a hard time looking through them to where those moments and opportunities might lead us.  I’m as guilty as anyone else of living like that.  The conventional wisdom tells us to work hard.  Save money.  Plan for the future.  We were on that path.  We were saving money for a down-payment on a home. I was pushing myself professionally to make sure my career path had an upward trajectory.  We were diligent about putting money aside for retirement.

Then, over the last few years, a number of things started to jolt us out of that cocoon of complacency.  A close friend’s mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  My mother was hit hard financially and lost her home to the bank.  A schoolmate from when I was a child died from a brain tumor.  A classmate from high school died from melanoma.  Three years ago today, one of my most dear friends was murdered by her ex-husband.

Everyone knows life is precious and fleeting, but these events sucker-punched me.  There were things that had been left unsaid, regrets, and ‘should-haves’ and the weight of them felt terrible.  We came to realize that while we had a great life, we weren’t actually taking advantage of what it could be.  It became painfully clear that despite the best of plans and the most careful of arrangements, it can all be gone in an instant.  We took a good long look at ourselves and asked,What is it that we dream of?  Why don’t we follow that dream and see where it goes?

That burning passion that writers and artists and athletes have for what they do?  Well, I don’t exactly have that, but the thing that burns inside of me says take the chance.  So we did.

The Re-entry Post

20 Feb

If you follow us on Facebook, you probably already know that we are home.  You know, HOME home.  Living-with-my-parents home.  Spending-all-our-time-trying-to-remember-how-to-write-a-cover-letter home.

Over the last week we’ve been asked the same few questions, oh, about a million times.

How is it being back?  

Being back is fine.  Really, it’s fine.  It actually sort of feels a little time-warpish, like maybe we never left in the first place.  We’re house-sitting for my dad for a month or two, and honestly, we are so freakin excited to be staying in the same place for more than a few nights in a row.  We’re also excited that finally we get to buy a full basket of real groceries.  It’s the little things people.

What are you going to do now? 

What are we doing now?  Well, we’re applying for jobs.  I was in education before, as a teacher, and I’m sticking with that industry.  Ideally I’d like to be in international education, or a study abroad program office, or a curriculum management position…there are a lot of directions this could go.  Justin was in a corporate office, doing, you know, corporate office stuff, mostly around meeting and event services.  He’d ideally love to be a part of the beer industry (because beer is awesome), probably in a similar events management kind of gig.  If any of you have a fabulous connection in either of those fields, let us know!

Are you experiencing reverse culture shock?

No. We spent the last 3 months of the trip in Australia and New Zealand, which really, are so similar to here that we found it all to be a very smooth transition. We did have a little bit of shock entering Australia though.  We had come from 6 months in places like India, Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia, and we were THRILLED to be flushing our tp and drinking water straight from the tap again.  We were less thrilled to be paying $11 for a pint of beer.

We are experiencing just a little unexpected weirdness, mostly related to how we’ve been living (you know, like vagabonds) for the last 15 months.  The first bit is that we are totally overwhelmed by our wardrobes.  After having just a few changes of clothes each you’d think we be basically just rolling around in our re-discovered piles of extra clothing.  Well, not so much.  When we were moving we just stuffed all our clothes into suitcases and threw them into my mom’s basement.  Now, it’s a huge disorganized jumble and we can’t find anything that seems appealing.  I’m hoping we’ll get over that soon.

The other very strange thing is that we at once want to get out and see all our friends, but at the same time, we don’t want to do anything or see anyone.  We have a list of people that we want to call and make plans with but we just haven’t.  We spent time hanging with my family, and we’re headed out to see J’s family next week, but it’s not like we are oh-so-busy right now and can’t find time for anything else.  This is probably the strangest thing because we were very social when we lived in NYC, and we were pretty social on the road, when we could be, making new friends in the hostels etc.  I think it’s just a function of it being only the two of us together for so long, particularly in the last two months when we were camping all the time and had less opportunity to meet a lot of new people.  I’m hoping we’ll also get over this soon.  In fact, I’m going to force the issue and call some people as soon as I’m done with this post.

As you already can tell, we’ve only been keeping up with Photo Fridays in the last few months of our trip, but we’ve got so many things left to talk about! We have all of Justin’s Moving Box Bet videos to edit, the last of the Roundups to organize, and loads of stories we didn’t have time to write about on the road.

We may be home, but we’re not done with this blog.  Thanks for travelling with us, and stick around because the best is yet to come.

Happy New Year!

1 Jan

Champagne by Anders Adermark on Flickr

We stopped making New Year’s resolutions long ago.  There came a time when it started to feel absurd that we would resolve to change something just because of the time of year, but I suppose it’s as good a time as any to really sit down and really evaluate yourself and your life.

One of the major things Justin and I have done differently in the last few years is to make a conscious effort to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations.  I know, it sounds strange, but it’s been one of the best things we’ve done for ourselves.

It started when I stumbled across a little graphic that looked a bit like this:

Magic

This idea resonated so completely for me that I still use it to help guide my choices.

For us, stepping outside our comfort zone has meant a lot of different things, ranging from small steps, to huge leaps.

It was uncomfortable to quit our jobs without any real plan for what we’d be doing in the future.  It was uncomfortable when I finally decided to quit smoking.  It was uncomfortable when Justin went back to school full time and still had to have a full time job.

All these things were difficult for us, but all of them have ultimately resulted in us being happier and more at ease with ourselves and where we are in life.

Stepping outside your comfort zone could mean lots of things:

  • Taking up a new hobby or sport.
  • Putting aside a shy nature and introducing yourself to new people.
  • Getting rid of things that are cluttering up your home.
  • Leaving a relationship or job that is no longer fulfilling.

It can be difficult to take risks to change your life, but isn’t now just as good a time as any to decide you’re worth it?  We think it is, so we wish all of you a Happy New Year filled with all kinds of magic!

In The Wild In Tasmania

4 Dec

It’s a good thing I have a regular Photo Friday, or this blog might have totally fallen by the wayside.  We’ve been in Australia since the end of October, and we’ve hardly posted a thing in that time.

Here’s where I offer some excuses…Last month, my mom and step-dad, and Justin’s sister came out to travel with us for a while, which means that in the evenings when I might normally be thinking about sorting photos or trying to write a post, we are spending time hanging out and catching up on the year’s happenings.  Another thing is the absurd lack of wi-fi access.  Honestly I don’t really get it because, hello, even in tiny Indonesian villages we were able to get free wi-fi at most guesthouses or restaurants.  Those things aside, well, we’ve been really enjoying our time, and I just haven’t felt much like being in front of the computer.

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8202/8242582499_20b73dc53e_n.jpgLast week we said goodbye to our loved ones and made our way to Tasmania.  It’s part of Australia…you’d be surprised how many people don’t know that.  I’m a little ashamed to admit that when a friend of mine came here years ago, I had to look up where exactly it is on the map.   In any case, we’re currently living out of a campervan (which is amazing by the way, totally do this for a while if you ever get the chance) and have been spending most of our time gallivanting around Tasmania’s national park system.

We didn’t know much about Tasmania because almost nobody we know has ever been here, so we didn’t really have any expectations other than that we’d heard it was a good place to be hiking and doing other nature-y things.

Well let me tell you, our minds have been totally blown by how STUNNINGLY beautiful it is.  The landscape combines two of the things we love the most – lush mountains and perfectly blue-green ocean waters on white-sand beaches.

Our photos don’t even begin to do it justice, but we’ll leave you with this very tiny slide show for just a small taste.  As always, it’s much better if you actually click-through to Flickr and check it out on the full screen setting.

*For whatever reason, I can’t make the slide show actually show up here, so just click the link and it’ll open in a new window*

http://www.flickr.com/photos/theparallellife/sets/72157632167603166/show/

A Year of Wander

6 Nov

With all the hurricane chatter from the East Coast, and American election chatter from everywhere else, we somehow skipped over the fact that this weekend marked one year of travel abroad for us!  We’ve made it to Australia, which is another big marker for me personally.  Upon stepping off the plane, I have officially visited all seven continents.  Hooray!

We considered doing a year-long roundup of sorts to commemorate the moment, but figured we’ll save it for the very end, which unfortunately is creeping up on us.  We found a great deal on a flight home in February and have bought the tickets, so we’ve had to come to terms with the fact that even though it’s still a few months away, there is now an official end to our journey.

The rest of our trip will be spent in Australia and New Zealand.  More than a year ago we promised my mother we’d meet her ‘down-under’ for her birthday, which is next week, so here we are.

We’re going all in and are hitting up spots from the vineyards of Western Australia to the deserts of the Outback all the way to the beaches of Sydney and the wilderness of Tasmania.

After a year of travel through places where the amenities of home aren’t always available, we are ecstatic to be drinking tap water, flushing toilet paper and showering with HOT water again!

We still have a lot of adventuring left to do, so stay tuned, and thanks for keeping up with us this year!

Technical Difficulty

19 Sep

We are 11 months and 12 countries into our journey and apparently all that excitement is just too much for my laptop to handle.  It may have died on us completely, though we are holding out hope that if it can’t be totally rescued, we may at least be able to save the pictures from, ALL OF NEPAL that we stupidly did not back up on our USB hard drive that we bought for specifically that purpose.

Never get lazy with your back-ups people!

So, we’ll keep up with the Photo Fridays for the next few weeks, but keep your fingers crossed for our data recovery attempts, we need all the luck we can get.

Into The Great Wide Open

8 Aug

As you read this, we’re bumping along some dusty road in Nepal, on our way to start our trek of the Annapurna Circuit.  It’s monsoon here, and despite the fact that we’ve met a few people who’ve just completed the same route and had lovely weather, well, you never really know what’s going to happen.  As such, we aren’t sure how long we’ll be gone, but we suspect it’ll be somewhere between 13 and 18 days.  In the meantime, we’ve set some posts up so this space doesn’t get too lonely without us.

Keep checking in, and wish us luck as this is the longest trek we’ve ever done and the highest altitude we’ve ever been at!

 

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