Since this is a shiny new blog, and I just celebrated my 29th birthday on Feb. 2nd (sorry to overshadow your big day, Phil), it seems appropriate to write up a little long recap of my 28th year on this fine planet, It also serves as a brief overview of who I am and how the hell I got here!

My 28th birthday was SO GOOD. Steph and I both took the day off work, rented cross-country skis, and headed to Trillium Lake. This popular nordic skiing area a little over an hour outside of Portland near Mt. Hood was almost completely deserted by the time we made it down to the loop that circles the frozen lake. We skied the loop for a few hours, taking our time and enjoying the solitude and light snowfall. We got back to the car at sunset and drank hot cocoa from a thermos as we warmed the car up for our drive home. It was such a lovely day and I remember feeling really excited to face a new year – one that I was certain would bring with it some big changes for us.

steph cross-country skiing nordic at trillium lake oregon me outside in snow nordic skiing at trillium lake in oregon

 

Instagram has kindly reminded me that I posted this gem shortly after my birthday excursion, which summed up my current mood on life in Portland a year ago:

Things I'm over. 🌧 🚙🚚🚜🚗

A post shared by Sara (@sara_somewhere) on

By this point, Steph and I had been living in Troutdale (a suburb of PDX) for about six months in an effort to save money for a downpayment on a house in the city. We’d moved there from a gorgeous apartment on the South Waterfront, which was also a 5-minute walk to my office. Now, we commuted to our jobs in Portland M-F, sitting in gridlock for up to two hours each day. Even on the best days, the stress of the commute and Steph’s horrifically demanding job as a Supervising Paralegal sent us over the edge. We were pretty freaking miserable, in hindsight.

We starting planning our move back to New Mexico around this time. Actually, we’d initially decided that we were going to get remote jobs, buy an RV and travel the country. This blog probably would have been WAY more interesting had that plan worked out (so sorry). But we deemed that plan a little too ambitious at the time. Steph had just been recruited by her brother to assist with his new business venture and I wanted a physical space where I could finally set up a studio to master the art of tintypes as a possible future business endeavor (I’d taken a workshop in NY that October and fell in love with the medium). Living in an RV would have made doing those two things very difficult, if not impossible, and we also weren’t ready to spend all of the money we’d saved for a house outfitting an RV to suit our needs.

I think we were both incredibly relieved when we nixed the RV plan. The logistics involved in living on the road are intense – kudos to anyone living that life! It’s definitely still a dream of ours, but after a lot of discussion, we’d realized that all we really wanted was to go home to New Mexico. Luckily the money we’d begun saving for a down payment (and our saved profit from selling our house in Alaska a year prior) allowed us to get our moving plan in motion pretty quickly.

Spring and Summer in Oregon are absolutely breathtaking, so we definitely did our best to get outside as much as possible before our impending move by going on walks, hikes and bike rides.

girlfriend steph and self drinking beer outside in summer

green chevy spark parked next to bicycles in green grass and green trees

green field of wildflowers seen on hike in forest

me laying in grass and wildflowers with dog scout

By May, I’d received a job offer to work remotely supporting the payroll and database operations at a healthcare startup. This was the last key piece that needed to fall into place before the move, so I was absolutely thrilled! I gave notice at work (this is never easy, is it?) and we started putting the finishing touches on our move plan. We’d already found an apartment to rent in Placitas, a village about 30 minutes outside of Albuquerque, where my mom would coincidentally live in the unit below us. We’d wanted to live in a more rural area, so this was a win! After making a few big moves over the last few years, I felt like we were moving pros and had this thing down.

In June, my sister and her boyfriend were nearing the end of a 3-month trip through Europe and invited us to join them on the last 2 legs of their trip, visiting Amsterdam, and Iceland. Steph and I talked about whether or not we could make it work. She felt like she needed to finish her last month at work (best employee ever, y’all), but encouraged me to go alone since I’d already finished my last 2-weeks at work and we weren’t scheduled to leave for NM until early July (my new job started in mid-July). I was fairly hesitant to go since it would be the first big trip I’d ever taken without my favorite person and travel partner, and it would involve flying by myself and staying alone in apartments in Amsterdam and Reykjavik. But having never been across the pond, I saw it as an opportunity for adventure that I’d be a fool to pass up.

amsterdam cityscape with bicycles

Typical Amsterdam cityscape!

I look terrified because I WAS. But it was the good kind of terrified.

amsterdam canal with boats and cityscape

The canals were gorgeous.

view of iceland out windshield while driving road trip around iceland

Road trippin’ Icleland’s Golden Circle.

thingvellir national park in iceland rift between tectonic plates

Þingvellir National Park, where you can see a rift between two shifting tectonic plates! Amazing.

white icelandic horses in iceland

The trip was fantastic and is something I’ll probably spend a couple posts going more into detail about down the road. It was too short, only 7 days long, so I don’t feel like I had enough time to see all that I wanted to see (every traveler’s lament). Amsterdam was a stunning city with a really progressive vibe and art scene. I loved it. And I know it’s the latest Instagram trend, but I am completely fascinated with Iceland and cannot wait to visit again!  It was super hard not having Steph by my side, experiencing all of these “firsts” right along with me. I missed her like crazy, but times like these always remind me of how lucky I am to have found someone I adore doing life with.

Once back on American soil, I promptly came down with a cold just in time for our mad dash to pack before picking up the moving truck. In what was probably the most exhausting 48 hours of our lives, we managed to finish packing, load the truck, clean our condo and hit the road for New Mexico.

**The above photo is a dramatization of actual events**

Four long L. O. N. G. days later, we pulled up to our new home, in our old home! Life is weird.

Our jobs didn’t start for a couple of weeks, so in addition settling into our new environment, we began re-connecting with friends and family we’d missed, making plans for hikes, dinners, drinks and BBQs. It was SO GOOD seeing all of the faces we’d missed for years and had seen only infrequently, and I immediately felt a sense of community and kinship that I felt I was missing from my life in Portland.

I was also outside as often as possible, rediscovering the landscapes and trails of my childhood. These are some of my absolute favorite places on earth.

hiking with friends on a trail in the jemez in new mexico

old dead pine tree and hoodoo sandstone formations at Tent Rocks in New Mexico

steph, dog scout and self on a hike in the ojito wilderness in new mexico

Summer carried on as I started my job, diving into the dreaded newbie learning curve but overall really enjoying my position, co-workers, and company. I feel incredibly lucky to get to work from home because let me tell you, it is absolute ~bliss~ for this socially anxious introvert who’s known nothing but cubicle farms for the last 10 years. BLISS.

The rest of 2016 carried on in a similar manner, which was fine by me. Lots of family & friend times, and adventures in the form of road trips, hiking, and camping. Honestly, so many fun events have taken place that I can hardly remember it all. Hence, the birth of this blog! I’ve been happier than ever, and I think Steph feels the same.

campsite with friends in the autumn in the jemez mountains new mexico

In December, we decided to move out of our apartment and back into Albuquerque. We’d had some safety concerns regarding our neighborhood, and things just kept escalating to the point where we had trouble sleeping through the night and feared for our safety. We truly loved the area we lived in but, while Placitas is generally a lovely and safe bedroom community to Albuquerque, you don’t get to pick your neighbors and we, unfortunately, ended up with some lemons.

In early January, when I usually plan something fun for Steph’s birthday (on the 5th), she had me take a few days off work and announced that she’d planned some sort of surprise trip for us, “for her birthday.” I had NO idea where we were going, other than that it was located in Colorado and required driving our Land Cruiser. I’m not really a surprises kind of girl, but I rolled with it! I’ll save the details for another post, but she had arranged the most magical proposal trip imaginable, taking me to a picturesque little cabin in the snowy Rocky Mountains, and asked me to marry her on January 6th. I said YES, of course!! It was probably the most wonderful and memorable trip of my life, and I can’t wait to share the photos and full story.

I celebrated my 29th birthday a little over a week ago with a super fancy dinner out with Steph, a snowshoe trip with friends, a hike and soak at Ojo Caliente Hot Springs with my mom and sister, and another dinner with friends (soon to be family!), so that concludes this fantastically long birthday recap post. I know everyone says this, but I do truly feel like I’ve learned more about who I am, what I want and where I’d like to go over the last twelve months than I have in several years. Yes, the past year was hard in innumerable ways, but it was also overflowing with love, growth, hope, support, and excitement. I’ve obviously left a lot out for the sake of brevity, but I’m looking forward to sharing more detailed posts, stories, and adventures with you in time.

Happy Trails,
Sara

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Written by Sara
Desert dwelling nature lover. Forever striving to live a life of adventure, wholeheartedness, and curiosity.