My Favorite Moments of 2016
A year ago today, I woke up in the back of my Jeep in a Walmart parking lot in Las Vegas. I was halfway through a road trip that would change my life but, for me, it was just another day on the road. I was dreaming of exploring a new national park and of checking Utah off my list. My imagination wasn’t up to the task of speculating what all 2016 would mean for me. I couldn’t have predicted that Trump would be elected or that a man would move across the world to be with me, much less that Princess Leia would die just after the release of one of the best Star Wars movies to date. I was blissfully ignorant of what the future held and just happy to wake up next to a man I was beginning to fall for.
Favorite Moment #1 - Llew’s Decision
The end of January was there before I knew it and Llew was back in Australia, trying to decide if he wanted to move to the US. We’d met two years prior to this in Bruges and had two wonderful days together. That brief encounter, 5 months of being email pen pals, and two months of living and traveling together summed up our relationship at this point. He’d be insane to take this leap based on just that, right?
I’m delighted to say he was crazy enough to go through with it. The first best day of 2016 was when his plane touched down in Vancouver and he moved in with me. We had no idea how we were going to make it work but we deemed each other worth the risk and that’s all that mattered.
Favorite Moment #2 - Three New Countries
Almost immediately after Llew got here, we flew to Scandinavia to explore Sweden, Denmark, and Norway with one of our best friends. Ever since reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I’d been dying to see the fjords of Norway and $200 round-trip plane tickets were too good to pass on.
While Sweden was a bit of a letdown, Copenhagen, Denmark was truly remarkable. I generally don’t like repeating places, but I’d hop on a flight to Copenhagen tomorrow if I could. Norway was everything I thought it’d be. Sure, it was rainy and cold and we weren’t there in the best season but our cruise down the fjord and stops in little villages more than made up for the weather.
Favorite Moment #3 - The Best Road Trip
I’ve driven across the country from Seattle to Florida six times at this point, but trip number five holds a special place in my heart. Maybe this was because we didn’t have an ETA in mind and could wander as we pleased. Or maybe it was because both Nym and Llew were with me. Whatever the reason, we had the trip of a lifetime and explored some of the most beautiful places in the US (I’m looking at you Utah).
There was this magic moment when we were driving into a massive storm cloud as we entered Canyonlands National Park... Time seemed to stand still and all we could do was gape at the desolate landscape that stretched out before us. The cracks of lightning and rolls of thunder perfectly accentuated the mood of the moment and we paused to glory in the wonders of nature.
Favorite Moment #4 - Spending Time with Family
Since moving to Seattle in the summer of 2014, I haven’t been able to spend much time with my family. This made me appreciate having an entire month to visit with everyone. With everything we owned in storage, we were basically rent free with no living expenses. My eleven nieces and nephews had grown so much. Llew and I grew especially close to two of them, Noah and Lillie, with whom we played some pretty hardcore games of tag. Noah, you're still "IT"!
Favorite Moment #5 - My Birthday Road Trip
Visiting Yosemite had been on my bucket list for years, so I was stoked to finally cross it off on my 27th birthday. Watching the sun rise from Glacier Point after stargazing all night was perfection itself. And being with someone willing to drive 30+ hours in one four-day weekend just to help me mark another national park off my list? Priceless.
Favorite Moment #6 - Losing 25 Pounds
My Euro trip in 2014 changed my life for the better in about a million ways (after all, that’s where I met Llew). However, I also gained weight that I’ve been struggling to lose for nearly three years now. During my month there, I gained 15 pounds. Then during my Christmas road trip last year, I gained another 20. I rarely talk publically about my weight and how much I struggle with it, but it has been a constant source of unhappiness for me for years now.
I hike constantly, run, workout, eat 1200 calories a day, and still have had a VERY difficult time losing any weight. For every pound I lose, it takes ages but I can go out to eat one night and easily gain five pounds that won’t go away. I pulled a groin muscle snowboarding in February of last year that wouldn’t heal and kept me from being able to hike, run, or workout for most of the summer. I’d lost 10 pounds just before this and was in a great workout routine so it was incredibly disheartening to be set back like this.
Deciding to completely give up sugar in May to try to combat not being able to exercise properly was the best decision I could make. Still, I didn’t lose any weight. In September I started doing some of the Beachbody workouts. I lost eight pounds in two months and started feeling better about how I looked. Then we moved into a new apartment that is freezing cold and I dropped out of my routine. Miraculously, I still managed to lose another 5 pounds. I’m now back to what I was at when I came back from Europe. 15 more pounds to go!
Favorite Moment #7 - Holidays in Canada
In 2016, we spent Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in Canada. Each trip ranks among the best of my life. We rented a motorcycle and rode the Sea-to-Sky Highway in May. Clinging to Llew as we went around the gentle curves of one of the most scenic roads in the world was magical. We saw baby bears, incredible mountain views, and Llew fulfilled a lifelong dream of mountain biking at Whistler.
For Thanksgiving, we journeyed back to Whistler. This time we stayed in a snow-covered AirBnB at the base of the ski lifts. We built one of the sexiest snowmen you’ve ever seen, went skiing in the softest powder imaginable, and shared many a cup of whip-cream-topped hot cocoa.
Christmas saw us back in Canada. This time, in Banff, Alberta. We played fetch with Nym on a frozen lake adorned with an ice castle, went snowmobiling in the mountains of Golden, and then drove up the Icefields Parkway on Christmas day. It was the most wonderful first white Christmas either of us could’ve asked for.
All in all, 2016 was a great success. We struggled through much of it but made a point to make the most of every moment. We were both unemployed for a huge chunk of the year but are now both at good jobs with coworkers we enjoy. I won’t begin to speculate on what 2017 has in store for us, but I’m so excited to experience it with my two best friends, Llew and Nym.