There is never a better time than NYE to do a recap of the rapidly-fading year (this is mostly just an excuse for the fact I’ve been meaning to put this together for a while, and I’ve been neck deep in that damn politics essay… and also Christmas food), and this year has been such a doozy, that I thought it would be wrong to miss the chance to very quickly the incredible adventures we’ve had.
January. We had a relaxed January, knowing that we were heading off on the trip of a lifetime in February, but managed to fit in some fun anyway. We had James’s eldest sister Amy visit and celebrated a rather chilly Australia Day with her, the three of us attended the St Barbara’s Day Ball for James’s Battalion, and explored some of the joys of Lawton while she was in town.
February/March. Across February and March, we spent six weeks partaking in the GREATEST ROAD TRIP THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN. We covered fourteen states, drove over 9000 miles, ate some amazing food, saw some stunningly beautiful sights, rode rollercoasters, swam in the ocean, went jet-skiing, stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, hiked Angel’s Landing, snowboarded in Utah, played Malacca in Colorado, climbed the Manitou Incline, watched Beauty and the Beast, bought pastries in Las Vegas (and Georgia, and anywhere else we could find them!), visited numerous STEM museums designed for children, and posed with bears all over the place. All in all, it was one of the wildest and greatest times of our lives, and undoubtedly the longest, biggest trip we’ve ever done. Definitely one for the photo albums and the memory banks!
April. We found ourselves in Costa Rica for a short duck in and out trip because James had booked flights to do a race there (which was subsequently cancelled), and also because I had to leave the country for my visa requirements. There were some MASSIVE german shepherds at the lovely little resort/hotel we stayed at, we ate some beautiful food and experienced the humming joy of the farmer’s markets, as well as visited an active volcano. We commemorated our first Anzac Day in the USA with a special dawn service and a ridiculous quantity of Anzac Day biscuits… And really missed spending this important day at home with our friends and family.
May. A busy month for uni, we also headed off to DC for the yearly Army week trip towards the end of this month and had a fantastic time getting out of Lawton… Despite James getting food poisoning and me getting some terrible blisters as a result of walking absolutely everywhere in our attempts to see as much as humanly possible. It was a relief to my soul to eat some quality Thai food and visit patisseries and book stores… And also to have far too much fun at the International Spy Museum!
June. We ticked off a few American firsts in June, attending (and cheering very loudly) our first baseball game for the Oklahoma City Dodges, having a brilliant time shooting various firearms with James’s mate Robbo at a range in Wichita Falls, and perhaps inappropriately gorging ourselves on the dessert options at OKC’s The Melting Pot.
July. We hit another huge road trip in July!! We ticked off another slew of states—including the Dakotas, Idaho, and Montana—on our way to white water rafting with ARTA on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. We ogled bears and wolves at Bear Country USA, checked out the stern visages of Mount Rushmore, went ziplining, spent a day checking out every possible square inch of Yellowstone that we could get around to and found some tasty treats along the way. As always, if you’re doing some travelling and want to see our recommendations for fun and food in this part of the world, check out that post! We ALSO went white water rafting for the first time with my brother, my cousins and my aunt and uncle, and made some new friends along the way—if you ever want to go rafting in the USA, I can’t recommend ARTA highly enough. They’re incredible!
August. We were overdue for some chilled out, uni-stacked home time in August. Though James had a work trip to Kansas City, I was virtually glued to my desk for both August and September trying to power out assignments and get through course work. It was also a good time for some thoughtful blog posts, some reflection about writing and my purpose in life as a writer, and some reading for the year.
September. September was allllll about getting our scuba diving tickets through Blue Water Divers in OKC (they’re an awesome group of divers, and every time we do a course or head out diving with them, we have an incredible time with the funny, knowledge and personable instruction staff). We took our first memorable breaths udnerwater, were terrified by the very creepy bathrooms of the OKC community swimming pool, and, later in the month, learned our way around the murky bottoms of Lake Tenkiller. We were also lucky enough to have James’s dad come and visit us for a while and to help me cheer on James in his first ever half ironman!
October & November. I lumped these two months together because so much of both of them was absorbed with me being away in Australia. October especially wasn’t pretty: it was really hard, and it is predominantly coloured by the sudden, unexpected death of my grandfather, a man I loved so, so much, and find myself missing very much. I spent three weeks in Australia to be with my family and mourn him, and try to process a world without him in it: it’s an ongoing journey.
On November 17, however, James culminated five days worth of letters and a beautiful customised crossword to propose to me… And of course, I said yes. Not surprisingly, this was one of the most fantastic and memorable things to happen all year. We also got the chance to spend Thanksgiving in Tulsa with our friend Jordan, whose family took us in and spoiled us over the holiday.
December. We decided to finish the year with a bang, including trips to Blue Hole, New Mexico for some diving and some new qualifications, as well as a stunning whirlwind of a trip to visit some family in Austin, who took the world’s best possible care of us and celebrated our engagement in style. We had a chilly but relaxed Christmas at home with just the two of us and enjoyed what is liable to be our last quiet Christmas for a long time… And that, coupled with that damn politics essay, just about closed out 2017!
So then: happy happy New Year everyone! I hope that as 2017 recedes into the distance, there are times, places and people in it that you can remember with fondness. I hope that 2018 brings you peace, joy, love, adventure, and fulfilment in all areas of life.