In 2011: Highlights from the Year

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2011 was meant to be “the year I stayed home.” After going round the world and back a handful of times in 2009 and 2010, I was ready for a break. And then…things happened—purely awesome, life-altering things—and I found myself visiting 21 states and 13 countries and moving 2,300 miles and then going around the world again. Let’s recap shall we?

January started out with a travel mishap that stranded us in a ghettofied airport hotel in Memphis for New Year’s and wound up causing our car to be towed. (Luckily, this was not an omen for the following 12 months to come.) A few weeks later, we attended our second Snowcial conference in Tahoe and made the most of having a cabin share on the South Shore and an EpicMix season pass to Heavenly.

February saw us skiing, skiing and skiing some more. 2011 was the year I fell in love with skiing after some truly harrowing trips down the mountain in the past. My sister, her boyfriend and my mom flew out to meet us at Sierra-at-Tahoe for my birthday—and for some of the best snow California has seen in years.

In March, we—shocker—went skiing again, this time in Colorado at my new favorite ski resort Keystone.

At this point, I thought it was going to be the year of cold travel for us, as my skin was turning an alarming shade of pale and I’d worn my ski jacket more often than not, but then in April, we jetted off to Hawaii for 10 blissful days split up between the Big Island and Oahu. Man, I just love me some Hawaii, don’t you? It was at the Fairmont Orchid that I had my phone interviews for the job I’d take later in the year that would shake up my world, and at Turtle Bay when I’d get that call telling me I landed the gig, so Hawaii was good to us as a whole.

In May, we set out on the open road. Knowing we were relocating later in the year—a fact we kept secret from most everyone we knew for 10 long, secret-filled months—we borrowed my in-laws’ travel trailer and planned a 13-state road trip of the Western states. We started in California with a treacherous storm that followed us to Utah, where I sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and revisited one of my favorite areas in America, Canyonlands and Arches National Park. We also celebrated our first wedding anniversary at Sorrel Canyon Ranch just outside of Moab. Then, it was onto the Dakotas where flooding threw a crimp in our plans to see the Badlands.

June gave us even more of a glimpse of the West—and more specifically, a reality check: We learned how it could still snow and be well below freezing in summer months. Still, we camped in Yellowstone’s bear country, went to our first rodeo in Jackson Hole, fell in love with Montana, explored a near-frozen Crater Lake in Oregon and finally saw sun in Idaho at the tail end of our six-week, 5800-mile adventure.

We spent the first two weeks of July on vacation with my family in Canada and New England, following a cruise with Holland America. Then we flew back to San Francisco for 18 days, just enough time to say good-bye to the city that had been our home, pack all of our belongings, load them into a pod and ship everything across the country with the final destination being Tennessee. We left on the last day of the month and made our way back to Tullahoma over a period of six days.

But our year really started in August it seems: After celebrating my granddad’s 90th birthday with all my family, SVV and I flew to Boston for the second time in a month to set sail on a round-the-world voyage. I was hired as assistant field office coordinator for Semester at Sea, which put us living on a ship for four months.

By September, we’d gotten into our groove of ship life during the eight-day sail across the Atlantic Ocean. We docked in Morocco for four days, then spent a week sailing to Ghana, where we spent another four days. The period traveling around Cape Horn were some of the rockiest we spent on the sea, but at the end of it, we sailed right into Cape Town for a week, so I’d say it was worth it.

October was by far our busiest month of the voyage: We docked in Mauritius following a glorious time in South Africa, and then when we reached Asia, it was back-to-back-to-back destinations. We went out in search of tigers in India and then made the pilgrimage to the Taj Mahal, returned to Malaysia for the second time in 18 months, had wardrobes made in Vietnam and explored the temples of Angkor in Cambodia.

In November, we arrived in Hong Kong and then made our way to Shanghai for a few rainy days. From there, it was off to Japan for nearly a week, where SVV and I camped out at my best friend Tracy’s apartment in Tokyo. The period after Japan was a bit tough on all of the shipboard community as we had 20 straight nights at sea with none spent on land, though as luck had it, we stopped over in Hawaii for a brief eight hours on what just happened to be Thanksgiving Day! (SVV and I celebrated with brunch at a pancake house followed by a matinee of Breaking Dawn…you know, your usual Thanksgiving traditions.)

In December, things began to wind down. We docked in Costa Rica, where SVV and stole away to a very quiet spot near Manuel Antonio, then braved a monsoon in Honduras a few days later, where we still managed to squeeze a couple dives in. Our voyage ended in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and we relaxed at the beachfront W Hotel reflecting on our four-month circumnavigation before immersing ourselves in the real world once before. We arrived back in Tennessee with just enough time to prepare for the holidays and my class reunion. Then, my mom, sister, Richard and I were off to Memphis, where we currently are to catch up with all my cousins.

I’ll be back at home on Thursday, then SVV and I are spending New Year’s Eve alone at my parents’ house while everyone else we know (my mom and dad included) burn the midnight oil. Maybe we’ll go see a movie, maybe we’ll just stay in curled up in front of the TV with a fluffy puppy on our laps. Either way, I think we deserve a low-key evening for a change. And I know I’ve said it before, but I think our next year will be much calmer with more down time, more staying put and more of a focus on both of our careers. Though if 2012 holds nearly as many awesome surprises as 2011 brought our way, I say, bring it!

For past year-end reviews, see my recaps here: 20082009201020112012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

COMMENTS
  • December 28, 2011
    SVV

    Good. God. My minds a-twirl reading this and I was part of it!

    We win.

    • December 28, 2011

      Is there a way to “like” SVV’s comment? I agree. Only I wasn’t a part of it, only in spirit 🙂 .

    • December 29, 2011

      You two do win! I was happy with my end of year recap until I read yours… haha!!

  • December 28, 2011

    What a great year! Might sound overwhelming to some, but I love all the travel!

  • December 28, 2011

    Too bad you missed the Badlands, but what an amazing year otherwise! I think that’s more cool travel experiences than most people have in their lifetime!

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Well, I need to leave places unseen so I have travel goals for later in life, right? =)

  • December 28, 2011

    You DO win! And I thought we moved quickly. I am sending this link to everyone who thinks we need to settle down.

    Thanks for being part of our e-world in 2011. Happy New Year!

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Just proof that you can be married and have a home and still travel! I’ve never felt the need to be a full-time digital nomad, as I feel like we have our share of adventures while still being “tied down” in a sense.

  • December 28, 2011

    I feel like such a homebody reading all this!

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      But you live in NYC–you needn’t even leave the island to have a cultural/international experience =)

  • December 28, 2011

    What a wonderful year of surprises for you both. I’ll bet you’re ready to settle down, at least a little bit.

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      I don’t know if “settling” is a word in my lexicon…but we shall see, I suppose! =)

  • December 28, 2011

    You are so lucky to be able to travel and to travel in luxury! How do you do it??

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Ha, is that a rhetorical question? If not, the short answer is: Get a job that pays you to travel! (Though for all the skiing, we purchased season passes before the holidays when they were about half price and joined a ski cabin share that was a total of $350 for the two of us for the entire season! So that was a total steal as snow sports are expensive hobbies.)

      • December 28, 2011

        No it’s not! I want to have this lifestyle – traveling all the time, and I need some answers! Lol.
        If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your job that pays you to travel?

        • December 28, 2011
          Kristin

          I work as a travel writer so, you know, traveling comes with that territory =)

          And August through December, I worked as the assistant field coordinator for Semester at Sea.

  • December 28, 2011

    Boy, and I thought I put a lot into 2011! Glad I got to hang with you guys in SF!

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Here’s to many more hangouts in San Francisco, Atlanta and beyond!

  • December 28, 2011

    Gracious, woman! And I thought that I traveled a lot in 2011! I mean, I knew with the SAS bit you’d be all over, but this makes me exhausted just reading it…..and makes me look up plane tickets. 😉

    xox

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Haha. The funny thing is that I didn’t use my passport from last October until July (and that was just to go to Canada) so I really thought it was going to be a year without any international travel!

  • December 28, 2011

    Wow. Felt dizzy just reading all this…and in a very good way 🙂 Looking forward to what 2012 holds in store for you two!

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Hopefully it has a trip to Scandinavia to meet YOU!

      • December 28, 2011

        Absolutely! Looking forward to finally meeting you in person.

  • December 28, 2011

    You traveled more in a year than most people travel in a lifetime! (That’s not a bad thing 🙂 I hope your trip to Memphis this time goes a bit better and that you get some downtime in Middle Tennessee soon.

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Memphis is delicious and relaxing! I always love coming here to visit my family–the cousins + aunt/uncle all live in Germantown these days.

      • December 28, 2011

        Ahhh, that’s actually where I grew up. Germantown is nice and cozy, for sure!

  • December 28, 2011

    What a year! Glad I could meet you on your Boston portion 🙂

    • December 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Now you and Mike need to come visit Nashville! Though I have to admit, we don’t have e architecture Boston does…though we do have the whiskey!

      • December 28, 2011

        Definitely! And whiskey’s just as good!

  • December 28, 2011
    kat

    whew, girl. reading that just leaves me tired. happy new year!

    • December 29, 2011
      Kristin

      You, too! Hope it’s sunny and warm in Palo Alto!

  • December 28, 2011

    What an AWESOME year!!!!

  • December 28, 2011

    You guys really did manage to pack it in this year – what an incredible 12 months!

    • December 29, 2011
      Kristin

      Maybe 2012 will be the year I make it to Chile… =)

  • December 28, 2011

    Well my head is spinning! You guys are awesome… so glad I get to come along via the bloggie. I’m doing low key NYE, too, I think. It’s time for some rest!!!

    • December 30, 2011
      Kristin

      2012 is the year we travel together again…right???

  • December 29, 2011

    AH, I remember when your car got towed!! That was horrible. Also- Love the pink dress, yellow flower bracelet and adorable scarf… all of those things could end up in my closet and I’d be a very happy lady. So… I wonder how you are going to feel living in Nashville?! Will you get itchy feet? HOpefully not and we’ll be able to meet up again when we visit Bob’s family.

    • December 29, 2011
      Kristin

      I’d be a very happy lady if we could share closets! We have very similar styles–well, my non-traveling, not-living-from-a-suitcase wardrobe, at least. These past four months, I was working with limited means!

      I am STOKED to live in Nashville, about as excited as I’ve been ever moving to a place (odd, as I spent my first 22 years in Tennessee), so I’m sure we’ll be here the next time you guys come into town.

  • December 29, 2011

    It has been a pleasure following your posts throughout the course of the year.

    • December 29, 2011
      Kristin

      And even a greater pleasure getting to meet you and your gorgeous girlfriend in Japan last month!

  • December 29, 2011

    “2011 was meant to be “the year I stayed home.””

    Uh-huh. And how’d that one work out for you? Seriously, just reading about all your adventures exhausts me!

    (Also? I love your ski outfit. Those cute little pink pants are bonkers.)

    • December 30, 2011
      Kristin

      Thank you! After so much skiing last season, I felt the need to diversify my snow sports wardrobe, which uh, consisted of exactly one pair of ski pants and one ski jacket. The pants/jacket are North Face, last season…maybe they have them on sale still…

  • December 30, 2011

    That Semester at sea sounds like a dream job for a travelling gal, apart from the internet access withdrawal of course

    • December 30, 2011
      Kristin

      Yeah, it wasn’t a shabby gig at all!

  • December 30, 2011

    What an AMAZING year, I know I enjoyed reading about every second of it! Can’t wait to see what is up for 2012!

    • December 30, 2011
      Kristin

      Speaking of 2012, I can’t remember: Are you going to BlissDom or not??

      • January 1, 2012

        I wish I could, but I won’t be able to this year as I will be working the Oscar’s for work.

  • December 31, 2011

    Happy New Year! Hope that 2012 is as much fun (even if not as crazy).

  • January 1, 2012

    I LOVE these yearly roundup posts. What a year you had! You’ve inspired me to write one of these myself, thought it’s clearly going to be a bit late 🙂

    • January 1, 2012
      Kristin

      It’s never too late!

  • January 1, 2012

    Happy New Year!! I love to read yearly roundup and will most definitely have to put one up for myself. 🙂

    • January 1, 2012
      Kristin

      Thanks, Amy! Looking forward to reading yours, as well!

  • January 1, 2012

    WOW. What a year!!! Amazing.

  • January 2, 2012

    EEeee! Looked like it was epic for sure!

  • January 2, 2012

    i always love your wide angle shots but I have to say the hammock photo is my favourite, it is so cute.

    • January 2, 2012
      Kristin

      Thank you! Might have to be my next “cover shot” on Timeline, ha =)

  • January 2, 2012

    I am going to do a mini-version (way scaled down) of your Great American roadtrip: Zion, Coyote Buttes; Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Moab in May – Including two nights in Sorrel! I know you had a great time there, so looking forward to checking it out along with all the other natural sites on the trip!

    • January 2, 2012
      Kristin

      Oh that’s so cool! Yes, we LOVED that place (so did Ella!). I’m also jealous you’re doing Bryce Canyon, Zion and Monument Valley–those were too far south for us on this past trip as we were heading almost all the way to the Canadian border, but I visited them all when I used to work in Arizona and I don’t think there’s a prettier part of the country than those slot canyons.

  • January 3, 2012
    Haidang

    life is good for the KL & SVV 🙂 i love all your end year recaps…so amazing when you look back on what you have done and learned. i say bring it 2012 too! year of the calm..oh gosh. i honestly can say that’s bogus. i know you long enough to know that 2012 will be nothing but calm! ;-)))) cheers

    • January 5, 2012
      Kristin

      Haha, you are probably very right there! Thanks for the continuous support and kind words =)

  • January 3, 2012

    What an amazing year you guys have had!! I can’t wait to see and read about your adventures in the new year!

    • January 5, 2012
      Kristin

      My 2012 already has some Virginia in the travel plans! (*hint, hint*)

  • January 4, 2012

    Good heavens, woman, do you ever sleep? Great post – very uplifting – a great writing skill to have when sharing such envy inducing material. Love the photo of you on the cruise deck. Hope to have the chance to meet you sometime this year if you are ever actually in the south 😉

    • January 5, 2012
      Kristin

      No, actually! Now that I’m home and have some downtime, I honestly lay awake all night in bed counting sheep and doing whatever it is they tell you to try and sleep better…and it doesn’t work!

      But yes, 2012 is the year we meet in the South! i will definitely be doing more regional travel than international now that I’m back.

  • January 6, 2012

    Happy New Year!!! What an extraordinary year you had. Cheers to 2012 being even better!!!!!!!!!!

  • January 8, 2012

    Although there was lots of planning that went into taking my 2011 travel sabbatical, much of the year was unplanned for me. I used to live a very planned and regimented lifestyle. While I still need some level of routine in my life, I’m starting to learn that some of the best things that happen to us are the unexpected.

  • January 8, 2012

    Good god your pictures are just ridiculous!

  • January 10, 2012

    Holy moly–you have done more traveling in one year than I probably have in my lifetime! Sounds amazing. SVV is a very lucky dude. I loved this recap!

  • December 11, 2015

    Podolgo vreme One imaat odlichna poudna. Verojatno najdobar odnos kvalitet/cena. Ama ova so cena za vospostavuvanje povik im e najglupo neshto shto go napravile. Sami si se vrakjaat od percepcija na operator koj raboti bez skrieni troshoci (i reklami imaa so koja gi trolaa T-Mobile i Vip) vo standarden operator. Tapa poteg.

  • April 22, 2016

    That’s a smart way of looking at the world.

  • June 5, 2016

    I think I’ve been there! Do they have walk-through Christmas decorations? It was dark, but the building looks familiar. There was a train room set up inside and other things to see…which was a welcome attraction because it was bitterly cold that night!

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