We have a storm blowing in this week, lots of rain, and then more snow to replace all the piles of snow that have so far melted. We’ve been hibernating with cosy socks and lots of hot chocolate. It reminds me of a big storm last year, just as winter was fading, and as we camped out at the hospital having just welcomed our first child into the world. We emerged bleary eyed, bewildered, overwhelmed, excited and full of love. Its fair to say 2016 was a whirlwind, it was a pretty epic year globally for all sorts of reasons, although we were in our own little bubble for most of it (and still are). There are so many moments of 2016 that could be my favourites, but these are the ones that instantly spring to mind that I thought I’d share with you, seeing as I neglected to blog about virtually anything. One of my last posts was my trip to LA, which wasn’t a bad start to 2016, although I’ve got to be honest anything pre-baby feels like a lifetime ago!
When I started this post I thought it would consist of a few trips, a handful of amusing stories and mundane personal achievements, such as finally cracking how to make Yorkshire puddings at altitude and re-watching the entirety of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. #lifegoals. As it turns out, my 2016 highlights have all been about (unsurprisingly) babies, adventures, making the most of opportunities and spending time with friends and family. So here are the top 6 highlights.
Babies. Having one.
This is so huge it doesn’t even get a number, as the most obvious ‘moment’ of 2016 and many moments since is the life altering crazy world of becoming a parent. We are still very much learning and hope to get it down in the next 10 years or so. It’s undeniable that becoming a parent changes your whole world, not least because your entire perspective changes.You are now responsible for this teeny tiny person night and day, and you will nurture and teach them the ways of the world. I’m proud to say that so far, in the first year, we’ve managed to survive and even take a few trips and regularly leave the house, it’s been pretty awesome so far.
1. Montana and heading North.
Aside from the wonderfulness of parenthood, one of my favourite bits of 2016 was a trip to Glacier National Park. If you follow me at all on Instagram you may have seen some pictures of this stunning park back in the beginning of summer. We decided to go on a bit of a whim, whilst one of my best friends was visiting, and had only a vague idea of what to expect. Lake McDonald was stunning, the ‘Going to the sun road’ was one of the most beautiful and spectacular roads I’ve ever driven along, and later driving through the meandering roads of Montana was beautiful. We also managed to camp with a teeny tiny babe – which was great, even if we were terrified of being eaten by a bear, and we popped into Yellowstone National park on the way back for good measure. This is still one of my favourite parks, made even better when eating ice cream and putting the world to rights with your bestie. We still have yet to spot a bear though.
2. My tribe
This year feels really special, because I’ve tried to invest more time into new friendships, building those relationships and investing into Salt Lake City as my current home. Living abroad, there is always the feeling of wanting to go back home. I’ve accepted I may never shake that, but I also would hate to have squandered my time fruitlessly whilst I’m here. So I’ve committed to being present in everyday life, to saying yes to opportunities, going on adventures, and investing into friendships. Home can be whatever you want it to be, and for me it’s been a real gift to have several homes, and several tribes, especially now we have our own little family. We have also been lucky enough to have some ‘old’ friends come out and visit over the summer, which has meant showing them exciting places, hanging out and catching up, and although it’s not as frequent as I’d like, face to face time is the best. We also got to spend the early part of the Christmas holidays back in dreary old Blighty, eating roast dinners, cream teas and hanging out with dear faces.
We have seen many, many sunrises in 2016, but some of my favourites aside from dancing in the kitchen with a newborn, were with some amazing friends who visited from San Francisco, twice. First we got to visit Mesa arch and take some pretty epic photos just before our lives completely changed, and then again at Bryce canyon at the end of the summer. There’s not much better than seeing the sunrise, in a beautiful location with beautiful people.
4. Vancouver Island
Just before summer started, before the glorious warm weather, we got to take a trip up to Vancouver and stay on Vancouver island. It was a trip of firsts, this was our first family holiday, first international flight with a little one and it was just what we needed. We stayed for a handful of days on Vancouver Island, which was beautiful, we loved seeing seals and walking along the beach. As an extra bonus they had a lot of imported English treats, which made my day. We also visited Victoria and ate lots of seafood and kept an eye out for whales. I’d love to go back to go further north into the more remote parts of the island and pretend to be a pirate for a few days exploring Salt spring island and the surrounding islands. We also had a fantastic time exploring Vancouver, eating ice cream and walking around a big city. I really enjoyed Stanley park and the huge trees, as well as being right next to the coast. On the way we also got to go through Seattle, which I’d like to spend more time exploring.
5. Visiting Mars
AKA Scenic byway 12, in Utah. This is another favourite drive, we were lucky to go twice this year, and it’s like nowhere I’ve ever been. For the first trip, we got to spend some quality time with Kiwi Nana, starting out in Bryce, having spent some time walking in Zion, sampling local delicacies, and hanging out. Seeing the red rocks always gives me a thrill, and driving highway 12 is a bit like going to Mars, so is a lot of southern Utah. The highway twists and turns through some of the most dramatic scenery, we stopped at Escalante petrified forest and sunned ourselves by the lake, dreaming of more adventures, then we ended at capitol reef, where we picked apricots, saw petroglyphs and ate pie.
6. Being a palaeontologist/geologist for the day
This is the stuff dreams are made of. When our San Fran friends came to visit we went on an amazing trip to Bryce and again to Mars (See above). At the start of our trip we got to go back to Delta. To U-Dig fossils, which we visited the previous autumn. For a few splendid hours we all got to lose ourselves smashing rocks, chiselling rocks out of a huge rock wall and sifting through dust and rock to find treasure aka trilobites. It was the best kind of fun. Getting dirty and sitting in a huge pile of history. I absolutely felt like I was in an Amelia Peabody adventure, even though it wasn’t Egypt, and it wasn’t mummies, and it may not quite have been dinosaurs bones, trilobites are actually slightly older, but it definitely ticked the bucket list and childhood dream category.
And that’s the highlights of 2016. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.