Three year home. It’s hard to believe.
A bit over four years ago Jac and I decided to pack up and leave the US without really knowing what we were getting ourselves into. At that point in our lives neither Jac nor I had really traveled internationally, knew zero additional languages besides English, and had a very different understanding of the world at large. Instead of finding danger, confusion, and adversity during our travels we found friendliness, similarities, beauty, and differing ways of living life while still only knowing English. To date, it’s still likely the most risky and most rewarding decision we’ve ever made.
The last two years since my one year anniversary update haven’t been all that different. We were both fortunate to land at jobs where we are treated very well by our respective companies and managers, we go to work, come home, have fun when it’s not work, and make time for travel. One of the bigger differences has to be the home we purchased; we’re actually laying down roots, we’re part of a community, and we’ve turned about 1/3 of our backyard into a garden so we regularly have produce coming out of our ears.
We continually try to get an international flavor by attending local cultural festivals / events whenever possible. It’s not all that hard considering the twin cities has a rather large immigrant population from all over the world so it seems like there are always events to attend or places to visit like the Festival of Nations, Polish Festival, and Hmongtown. Jac and I enjoy attending these events since it gives us a helpful remembrance of our travels.
We reminisce often and chat frequently about a ’round 2′ trip. As time passes our memories of our experiences during our travels become less sharp and harder to recall while our desire to see strange new parts of the world increases. I vividly remember returning to the US with zero desire to ever be in a plane again and now we’re both interested in immersing ourselves into far flung places with new smells, new sites, and new voices. Since we still don’t have a strong desire to grow our careers at the expense of our time, our conversations about our future often drift towards travel and obtaining shared experiences in a new parts of the world.
We were very lucky with our home purchase. We wanted a home that was in the middle of the cities with good access to the interstates so we could have more work options. We found a home that fit our desires for location, layout, and size, in a very small tier one suburb. We originally thought the house was in a neighborhood of St. Paul or Minneapolis and we didn’t realize until after we had placed an offer on the home that the home is in a tiny suburb with it’s own highly rated school district, police force, and local government. So, we actually live in a very small town in the heart of a major metropolitan area and it’s by far the smallest town I’ve ever lived in as an adult. The town truly has a small town feel and has all the small town shenanigans that go with it. I sometimes forget there two cities that touch our suburb that represent the 18th largest city in the nation and we’re part of the 16th largest metropolitan statistical area. Kinda weird.
We’ve traveled quite a bit since our world trip but we’ve chosen to stay in North America for a variety of reasons. We’ve been some incredible places: the Eastern Sierra’s in California, the Canadian Rockies, the Smoky Mountains, and the American southwest. We were lucky to find some new hikes that easily landed on our top hikes of all time:
- the Gem Lakes / Mono Pass trail in the Eastern Sierras – incredible beauty
- Eiffel Lake trail behind Moraine Lake in Canada – stunningly gorgeous with very few hikers with only one terrifying run-in with a bear
- the Golden Wall trail at Red Canyon near Bryce Canyon Nation Park – a hidden gem with no other hikers with incredible scenery
During our travels we’ve also ran into some amazing seasonal, chance, or calendar events:
- Canada Day on July 1st in Jasper was amazing
- The Big Bay Boom in San Diego on July 4th was incredible
- stunning fall colors at Smoky Mountains National Park
- a desolate and serene bike ride through Zion Canyon
- Spring bloom of field flowers in rural Texas
- Rolling Thunder on Memorial Day in DC
- Lava flow in Hawaii
It appears as though the pattern of Really Bad Things happening to people areas as we’re visiting or shortly after we visited has ended. I wrote about our luck in the post “End to Nomadic Life” where places we visited had horrible, horrible things happen to people around us, like:
- the banks in Greece shutting down the day after we arrived in Greece – we were unaffected because foreigners were exempt from capital controls,
- a human stampede in Shanghai occurring a block away from us on the Bund where 36 people died – we were safe because we were on a deck up on the fourth or fifth floor of our building, and
- bad weather causing an avalanche killing quite a few hikers and guides while we were trekking – we were safe because we were in a valley over while we were trekking in Nepal.
The trend of Really Bad Things continued for a bit:
- we pulled over while driving highway 1 in California to watch a small brush fire since Jac has ever seen a forest fire. Later we learned the fire turned into the Soberanes Fire where highways were closed for quite some time and people died,
- we jumped a barrier on the Big Island to watch lava flow into the ocean and had a great time only to learn people were sent to the hospital a few hours later to recover from toxic air and shards of glass called “Pele’s Hair” falling from the sky due to a wind change,
- part of Canada shut down shortly after we drove thru on our way between Banff and Vancouver due to fires,
- and that’s about it that I can think of!
We’ve traveled to enough places without incident that I feel comfortable saying we’ve broken the trend. Our travels for about the last couple of years to the Smoky Mountains, Colorado, the American Southwest, Chicago, and San Diego have resulted in no mass injury or damage to the areas. A fresh breath of air :).
I decided to add a few photos to this post; just a handful of favorites from the last couple of years.
Enjoy the photos :).