We gave ourselves a year off for this grand adventure, and while sometimes it feels like we are just getting warmed up, we are actually coming up on the one year mark. It’s hard to believe, until I think back to all the mountain ranges we crossed, the boondock spots that tied my stomach in knots to find, the trails we hiked, the history, animals and plants we’ve learned about, and of course the incredible friends we’ve made. Then the memories stretch out before me like the Milky Way, and it seems like it can’t possibly have only been one year.
And then there’s the list of places we haven’t been yet…and although we haven’t made it to some seriously great areas – northern Arizona, southern Utah, Colorado – this list doesn’t bother me too much. We learned after just a few months on the road that every choice we made to see one place meant some other place we wouldn’t be able to see. There is awesomeness all around and we got pretty comfortable with the tradeoffs and easily gave up the idea of some kind of “perfect” route. Looking back, I wouldn’t change it — how could I give up our time falling in love with Astoria, Oregon? Or meeting the unforgettable mountains of the Eastern Sierras? Or spending weeks in the forests of Montana and the desert of Arizona?
The one year anniversary has made us really think about what we want to do next and how we get there. One year ago this week, we had quit our jobs, were frantically packing up the house, and figuring out last minute logistics for the trip. We finally hit the road and jumped into this great unknown – and had to learn to slow down and set our own pace, lingering longer when we wanted to and moving on when it felt right. While we could keep going on the road, we’ve both agreed that we’re ready to put our energy into building a life somewhere, becoming part of a community and getting back to work. (Of course, I wont be sad about having always-available hot water and easy access to a washer and dryer again. And don’t get me started on a hair dryer!) Much to Juniper’s dismay, it’s also time to reunite our pack and include our cats in our home (don’t worry, they have been safe, happy and loved with my mom!)
So we are slowly drawing this great adventure to a close…a few more weeks exploring New Mexico and then a focused effort to find a new place to live, starting here in the southwest. We’re looking for jobs and mentally preparing ourselves for real life…only this time with chickens! Yesterday also marked our seventh wedding anniversary – our grand adventure really started then, in the middle of a snow storm in Lake Placid, New York. From that day to this one under the sunny skies of New Mexico, it’s been an incredible journey, with another new chapter ahead. And maybe a little bit less worrying about finding perfect boondock spots. And more cats.