Texas Trip

What A Year It’s Been

I kind of knew 2012 would be a challenge. Michael had gotten word from his boss in December of 2011 that he may be losing his job and sure enough, restructuring happened and he lost his job at the end of January. Because of that, it’s been a year of ups and downs. Going down to one income was difficult, especially since my paltry income in no way could cover the mortgage. Luckily, we scraped by on my salary and his unemployment without going into any debt or suffering too much.

Stress levels were definitely high this year but I tried to focus on my personal growth and used fitness as my stress-reliever. I increased my cycling this summer more than I ever did last year. I was able to somewhat successfully commute to work by bike 3 times a week (with some bumps in the road because of lots of flat tires).

The cycling training I did didn’t prepare me for that full Century I wanted to do. Instead, Michael and I biked the Salem Metric Century (64 miles). It was a great ride and I felt strong and happy at the end.

peach

My knees, however, ended up being a literal pain the remainder of 2012. I was diagnosed with the dreaded runner’s knee but immediately started physical therapy, altered my workouts, and was able to rehab my knees enough to try running again. I’m still not 100% but I’m glad I can do something!

The Highlights

The biggest highlight of 2012 was Michael landing the perfect job. I really do think things happen for a reason and the reason for our struggles this year was for Michael to find an even better job than his last one with better people, benefits and pay.

I had my 15 minutes of fame when I was on the local news about my weight loss. And I found an agent for my book!

Traveling

It’s funny how the year that Michael loses his job ends up being the year we do the most traveling. I don’t know how, it just ended up that way. We were really, really lucky this year with our vacations.

The first one was to Vegas. We cashed in all our airline miles to make the trip doable. We stayed at the Monte Carlo and had a wonderful time (but I never have a bad time in Vegas). I won on roulette the entire trip, we saw a Cirque show and ate some amazing food.

vegas

The second trip was to Texas for his sister’s wedding. Since it was a family event we didn’t have to pay for airfare or a place to stay for the wedding. It was nice seeing his family and the wedding was beautiful. We ended up going to Austin for a few days to celebrate our 4th anniversary before heading back home.

wedding

austin2

I surprised Michael for his birthday and whisked him away to the beach. We walked in the sand, saw sea otters, ate some good food and drank beer at Rogue.

rogue

Lastly, the trip to Hawaii. Man, that was a surprise! Another gift from the universe. Our friends invited us to stay with them at their condo and all we had to foot was airfare. I have to say that the best parts of Hawaii were running and swimming in the ocean.

beach
birdsof

Also, the flowers.  🙂

Moving Forward

What does 2013 have in store for me? Only time will tell. I have a lot of goals I want to achieve in the new year and I’m going to be focused and determined to achieve them. A lot of my goals revolve around cycling, my book, and hopefully some personal enrichment. I’m forming a book club, I applied to volunteer at the cat shelter I used to volunteer at, and I’m planning some fun trips (of course one will most likely be Vegas!).

Cheers!

QUESTION: How was 2012 for you? What were the highlights?

Travel Alphabet

I saw this on another blog and while I don’t usually do these types of thing, I really wanted to share this one. I love traveling and wish I could do more. There are sooo many places I want to see and so many things I want to do. I need to win the lottery. 🙂

Travel Q & A

A: Age you went on your first international trip:  Not sure how to answer this one. Growing up in Seattle, I went to Canada a lot with my family, and when I was older I went with friends. Does Canada count? 😉

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:   It wasn’t necessarily the best but I had Guinness in England. I didn’t enjoy the beer but the fact that I was underage (such a rebel) and in a foreign country made it awesome.

C: Cuisine (favorite): This is too hard to decide. I guess the sushi I had in Vegas at Tao was pretty amazing.

Tao

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
Favorite: Probably England because it was the most “exotic” trip I’ve been on as an adult. I loved everything about England and want desperately to go back.

Least favorite: Acapulco, Mexico. I went with my family on a Mexican Riviera cruise when I was 17 and this was one of the worst places we visited. It wasn’t tropical like the other coastal towns we visited, it was a busy, smoggy city and really dirty. And it was super hot. The day we spent there was just miserable.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:  Stonehenge!

F: Favorite mode of transportation:  The Tube in London. So easy to use and fun. My cousin Anna and I frequently hopped on the Tube and just got off at random stops to explore. 

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: What I love best about traveling is the feeling of exploration. I love seeing new places, eating new foods, and just getting lost in a foreign city.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: I’d say my recent trip to Austin, Texas was the hottest place I’ve traveled to. While we were there it over 100 degrees, humid and hot as hell. It was 100 but “felt like 107.”

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:  Nothing comes to my mind but I have to say that everyone in Texas is super friendly. Never had bad service there.

J: Journey that took the longest:  My trip to London was definitely long with losing a day in the time change. Our trip was supposed to be 10 days but on the day we were flying home, our flight was canceled because of snowstorms in the US. Our trip was extended about 4 more days. Which was awesome! Even if I was out of money.

K: Keepsake from your travels:  I have a snowglobe from Stonehenge that is one my favorite possessions from my travels.

L: Let-down sight, why and where:  I’d say the Wharf in San Francisco. I wasn’t impressed. Every store had the same touristy crap.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: In London when I saw Stonehenge. It was such a magical, amazing experience. I wish I could have gotten closer and I wish the tour had let us stay longer. Definitely a must-see.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:  I would say The Palms in Las Vegas. It was a last-minute trip to Vegas (literally one day notice of booking plane tickets) and Michael asked his dad if he had any contacts in Vegas to get a good deal on a last minute room. It just so happened his dad was in Vegas on business and he extended his room at the Palms for us to use. WOW. The room was humongous and the bathroom was even bigger. Amazing Jacuzzi tub, views of the Strip…what a room!

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: I love taking pictures of architecture in other cities. The old buildings in England were works of art and very romantic.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?  England, Mexico, Canada. That’s about it right now.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: I would say the Dude Ranch where my cousin got married in Texas. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: I have a few. Obviously in England see Stonehenge and Bath. In Vegas, go to a Cirque show–you will not be disappointed. And eat at Craftsteak! The Blues Festival in Chicago!

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Probably the food. Craftsteak in Vegas is a pretty expensive restaurant but it’s one of our favorites and we try to go whenever we’re in Vegas. An amazing meal is worth the splurge.

 

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: My friend Rachel and I went to Chicago in 2006 specifically to go to the Blues Festival and to see the King Tut exhibit at the museum. The touristy thing we did was a boat tour up the Chicago River. It was worth every penny and so much fun.

U: Unforgettable travel memory: The British Museum. The only reason Anna and I had a chance to see it was because our flight home from England was canceled. I am so glad we were able to go because the museum was amazing. I could have spent days there looking at all the treasures. The Egyptian mummies and art they have are astounding, probably the best collection I’ve seen.

V: Visas, how many and for where? None.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? I’m spoiled living in Oregon. I have good wine all the time. Someday I will make it to Italy or France and have REALLY good wine…

X: eXcellent view and from where?: San Francisco. I loved the scenery and the architecture. We drove to the other side of the Bay to get a photo of the bridge and that was an amazing view.

Y: Years spent traveling?: Since birth? The longest trip I’ve ever been on is 2 weeks.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: Haven’t noticed this because I’m not really a sports fan. My brother lives in Philly, though, and says the fans there are crazy!

I’d love to hear about your travels so pick a question or two and answer in the comments.