Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 Recap and Reflection

Last year on the day after Christmas, Landon and I left Alabama and traveled west for 4 days to Reno, Nevada. We weren't really sure what 2018 would hold for us and thought that 2017 would be hard to outdo. A 13-week work contract turned in an 8-month assignment, followed by working a contract in Washington over the last few months...and 2018 has turned out to be pretty darn good to us.

We lived in 2 states and had 3 different apartments.
We visited/passed through around 14 states and 2 countries.
We took 20ish flights and stayed in countless hotel rooms.
We visited (I think) 9 national parks.

And saw so much of our beautiful country!

Here's a recap of our year...

We spent the first of many times at Tahoe.

This is unfiltered beauty that I terribly miss now. Here you can read some more about our hikes.

We took the first of several trips to the Bay Area. You can read a recap of that trip here.

We did a lot of hiking near where we lived. We were in short sleeves this day and on the same hike two weeks later we were wearing snow gear. 

We went to Virginia City, a haunted Wild West town.

We went to UNR basketball's last home game.

We spent more time at some of our favorite Tahoe places. I think this picture was when our friend Bryant came up to see us from the Bay Area. It was around this time I started realizing that "home" can be anywhere you make it.

We survived jumping out of plane! We went skydiving over Lake Tahoe for my 26th birthday. 

Priscilla and Lincoln came to see us. :)

We went to the all-you-can-eat buffet at a casino then for a hike...not our best idea ever. ;)

We went to Sacramento then onto Oakland for a Warriors game. Always a good time with my Jo!

Girls' day in Carnelian Bay.

We hit the slopes at Squaw Valley...and I may or may not mean that I hit them literally. ;)

Hiking the Rubicon Trail. 

Horseback riding in Zephyr Cove with amazing views of Tahoe!

All smiles on a hike...approximately 30 minutes before I tumbled down rocks and injured both of my knees. I was scraped from head and toe...God bless Landon and Melie for having to deal with me. Later this same day, Landon and I made our MiLB debut on the Kiss Cam at the Aces game. So fun!

Our cousin Savana came into town and we took a quick weekend road trip to Yosemite National Park. I wish we had more time to spend here! We did some hiking and driving all over the Valley and had the best time.

My dad and sister came to Reno!

We went all over the Reno/Tahoe area, to the Bay Area, Napa Valley, and wrapped up their week with a bike ride along the Truckee River.

Road Trip! Reno to Vegas...aka nothing but desert for hours.

We went with Melie to support her Caps and had such a fun quick trip before we flew to Nashville the next morning. We walked around to some of the different resorts, saw J-Lo shopping, and I learned I definitely can't hang like I used to be able to. #gettingold

Maggie and I took a road trip to Murphys, California. Such a cute little wine town!

And we took our inaugural plunge in the Tahoe Blue. Cold, but worth it.

Landon and I took a road trip to the Redwoods in northern California.

And no picture can truly do them justice. Creation is amazing.

This getaway was the best reset trip for us. We started in Medford, OR then explored Crescent City and Trinidad on the Cali coast. We hiked Fern Canyon, Damnation Trail, and Jedidiah Grove. We also took our 4-Runner through a tree at the drive-thru tree in Klamath. We had no reservations or itinerary when we left Reno...those kind of trips usually turn out to be the best.

We floated the river, and I won't mention the almost-drowning when my float popped. ;)

Independence Day celebration at Donner Lake...aka Melie with a bunch of Alabamians.

And we took a trip home (also one in June) to meet our new nephew Holden and niece Eliza.

More Tahoe days.

Matt and Jenn came to see us! We spent the night at Peppermill, showed them Tahoe, and went to the Bay Area/Napa Valley. So thankful Matt and Landon stayed friends after playing college football together so that now Jenn and I can be friends. We love them so much!

Kelli came to Reno!

Mt. Rose Summit! We made a goal to do this hike before we left Reno, and we finally accomplished it. Amazing 360 degree view of Reno, Truckee, and Tahoe...and we chose a gorgeous day. 

We went backpacking at Mt. Rose.

And we spent one of our last nights living in Nevada camping at Emerald Bay with these special people. Forever grateful that the Lord allowed the path of two couples from Alabama to cross in Reno. :)

We moved to Washington! After a chaos of a few days of flying from Nashville to Sacramento and all of our belongings and car being in Reno, we finally recollected our life and hit the road for Crater Lake. It was foggy but still beautiful.

Pit stop at the Columbia River Gorge.

I'm a Wilson fan so I couldn't move to WA and not go to Seahawks game. They lost to the Rams this game but we had a lot of fun.

Sea-kayaking! We took the ferry to Friday Harbor and crossed to the other side of the island to go kayaking and whale watching.

Day hiking in North Cascades NP.

We made several trips to Vancouver. On the first trip, Landon and I just explored Stanley Park which was gorgeous with its fall colors. On one of the trips we hiked the Grouse Grind which I still have PTSD from any time I climb a staircase. And then we went to two different Canucks games. We love Vancouver, BC!

My mom and sister came to Washington! On this day we drove up to Mt. Baker Ski Area.

Day trip to Whistler with my sister. So fun to be in a different country together (I think the first time).

Landon and I took a short trip to Leavenworth, Washington. It's like a Bavarian version of Gatlinburg, TN but on Christmas steroids.

We loved the cute little German town, enjoyed pretzels, and reminisced on our time last year in actual Bavaria. The Christmas decorations were already up and it was quite magical.

We celebrated Landon's birthday with a vacation to New Mexico. Here we are in a pueblo at Bandelier National Monument.

Four Corners Monument. This has been on my bucket list ever since my dad told me when I was a little girl about going to it when he lived in Arizona in high school.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Even though we zoomed through because we wanted to make it to some other places before it got dark, Landon and I loved it here!

White Sands National Monument. Went for the sand...stayed for the AMAZING sunset. :)

This was another trip that we went into without a certain itinerary or even hotel reservations. We saw Santa Fe, Los Alamos (home of the Manhattan Project), Jemez Springs, Roswell, and more. On the way to White Sands, we saw Guadalupe Mountains National Park and our route took us through El Paso, Texas. We flew in/out of Albuquerque. We had the BEST food including all the green chilis. We stayed in a different city every night and put a lot of miles on our rent car. But we had the best trip!

Melie and I being kiddos at the Olympic NP Visitor Center. ;)

Hiking in Olympic National Park. I'm sure you can tell that this girl has been a prominent part of my 2018, and I am so, so grateful that even though we worked different units the Lord aligned our orientation dates in Reno so we could meet and become best friends forever. ;)

And I wrap up with the amazing scenery at Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. Truly a breathtaking experience that I will cherish for a long time. We so loved our getaway to the peninsula with Melie and Michael. Even though it's not very far from where we live as the crow flies, we have to take a ferry with not the most convenient times to get there so it still takes a few hours. The little bit of a hassle was every bit worth it for the amazing experience.

What a year!

I would be lying if I said it was all easy. It's extremely difficult to move your life around and to live constantly with some degree of uncertainty as to where your life is going next. I've dealt with fear and anxiety more this year than I have in a very long time. Sometimes I can't keep my address straight. It's hard being in new cities and not having a family physician, dentist, optometrist, hair stylist, etc., and having to find new ones all the time that you don't necessarily trust. Flights home are always expensive. Doing rotating shift work and working in new facilities with new co-workers and physicians with different ways of doing things is never easy. Your work schedule is usually not the best because you are there to fill holes/needs. Contract work is temporary. When you are between jobs, it sometimes means a cross-country road trip or it means putting literally your entire life along with your vehicle into storage while you fly across the country and wait to figure out your next work assignment. All the little things add up and can sometimes always be a logistical headache. Not to mention just the frustration from people not understanding your choices and lifestyle. Many have tried (maybe inadvertently) to make us feel guilty for leaving our hometown and families. I say all of this to show you how traveling life is not always fun, easy, or glamorous. Many people don't realize the sacrifices made. Travel nursing is not for the faint of heart.

But the truth is, this is the life we have chosen and worked hard to build over the last couple of years, and it's the best choice for our little family of two. It has been a goal of ours to accomplish together since we met. Hands down I could not do what I do without Landon. I have wanted to move to new states since I was 13 years old and my best friend at the time moved away. I didn't get on my first plane until I was 18 years old, and I have been dying to see the world ever since...I have covered a lot in a short amount of time, but still have so much to go. Every day Landon is making my dreams come true. I don't take that for granted. 

Because of this, we were able to have the incredible year recapped above. As long as this post was, there was so much I had to edit out or not include. Hardly any of the pictures do the true beauty of our sights and experiences any justice. I've been left speechless so many times this year because of things we have gotten to see or do. We have also met so, so many amazing people and co-workers and created friendships and relationships that, while some are only for a season, I know some will last a lifetime. This is the life I crave, and I will choose it any day despite discomfort, uncertainty, and criticism. 

2018, thank you for everything. At the end of the day, Landon and I are accomplishing together what I would never be able to alone, and isn't that a point of designing a life together? I sink a lot, trust me. But when I do, he's the one in my boat that saves me...and there's no one better for it. I am so incredibly proud of him and this life and I am honestly just doing the best I can to make the most of it. I don't want to watch it pass me by, which is perhaps why I created this site in the first place. As you can see, following the calling on your life may be hard but is absolutely worth it. I am so thankful for the year we have hard but so amazing.

Life is a series of choices, of which I have made more than enough wrong ones, but gosh...the experiences of 2018 have been some of my very best ones and will be memorable for the rest of my life. Thank you God for it all, the highs and lows and all of it in between. You carry us through. Even in the valleys, You never forsake us. Even in the unknowns, You always know. I thank you for what was and trust you for what will be.

Now we are off to Seattle for a couple of days where some of my hometown friends are waiting for me! :)

Reflective and grateful, I am going into 2019 with open arms.

So we go.

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