Happy 2024 Everybody

2023 Was Quite a Year
Sean and I rang in the 2024 new year on our back patio, watching the neighbourhood fireworks and reaffirming that we don’t wanna do this rad journey with anyone else. We haven't stayed up till midnight on NYE in ages and ages. Once we were in bed we lay there for a good 30 minutes and reminisced about all of the fun we had on all of our adventures in 2023.                                                                                                     
January - was a total disaster
I got tinnitus and it sucked and it still sucks. Any holiday plans we had were cancelled as I came to grips with the notion that I'll be dealing with this for the rest of my life. I am really lucky that Sean is an amazing partner and that I had close friends who checked in on me when I was feeling like I couldn't cope. My experience was scary, upsetting, and exhausting, but I have come a long way in a year and I am managing much better with it. I learned a lot so if you know anyone who's also suffering, give me a shout and I can pass on what I learned that no doctors told me. 

February and March - down to the wire
Sean and I had been long talking about having a big adventure in New Zealand. Both of us quit our jobs at the end of 2022 so our calendars were wide open. By the time we decided to go for it, we only had a few weeks to plan the trip. We would be travelling in New Zealand’s busy tourist season so I had to book all of our accommodation and travel in advance. This left no room for error and I am still astounded that I pulled it off with no mess-ups in scheduling. Step one was to buy a giant, laminated map of New Zealand so we could start marking our “must-sees” on it and visualise our route. While I handled trip logistics, Sean made a start on packing up our house. Once we got back we only had a month to vacate our property and find a temporary residence.                                                                                                                                           
Our New Zealand trip was a whirlwind because I didn’t leave us much downtime when I planned everything. Oopsie. New Zealand is small, but there’s a lot to see and 6 weeks barely gave us enough time to cover it. We were on the move pretty much the entire time, which was exhausting, but you only live once! We saw some beautiful stuff: big palm trees; nice beaches; gorgeous mountains; cool cities; alpine lakes; new birds; whales & dolphins; fantastic friends, and my sister. We snorkelled, ziplined, soaked in hot pools (as they call them over there), hiked in pretty places, and experienced an earthquake. I plan on reminiscing in more detail in another blog, soon! There’s just too much to cover in an end-of-year recap.
Here are some of the people we got to see while in New Zealand.                                                                                                                                                                                    

After getting back to the States at the very end of March, we both had pretty bad lower back issues (Sean's was much worse than mine) because of all the driving, sitting on trains, and being shoved into tiny seats in big planes that we had done. I can see the shirt now: “I went to New Zealand and all I got was sciatica.” haha. Travelling in your late 40's ain't the same as backpacking in your 20's.                                                                                                                                                                                         
April - packing up our house
It was back to real life - jamming on packing up the house and our trailer (again). We had a garage sale to get rid of as much as we could and spent the last week sleeping on air mattresses after we'd loaded our beds into the trailer. Who says moving all the time isn't glamorous?                                                                          
May, June, July, and some of August - living in the city
I found us a shitty, little Airbnb in someone's basement in Denver for the unforeseeable future. Because we were actually IN the city, we had close access to good food, drink, and culture. We also hit up our fave outdoor spots for some scenic drives, wildlife viewing, and hiking. We wouldn't be Team SOCS if seeing our friends wasn't a big part of our time too. We caught up with friends who live around the Denver area, including some I haven't seen since living in Garmisch in Germany, and some friends who were passing through town. 

We also painted a friend’s condo up in the mountains in between all the other stuff. I loved that more than I thought I would and we seriously considered buying some painting equipment and advertising our services. We talked a lot about what we would do if we had our own place to paint. Oh, and we kept looking at Zillow, hoping the housing prices would come down enough for us to be able to afford something around the Denver/Boulder area. Wishful thinking on that one.
Even though we've been together for longer, we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in July by having a weekend in one of the prettiest places in Colorado. We took so many scenic drives, one of which saw us stuck on a narrow, dirt road on the side of a death drop below us. Here's to another 10 years, baby!                                                                                                                                                                  
Here are some of the friends and family we spent time with in our last few months in Denver.                                                                          
August + September - farewell for now
Sean got a contract with Blue Origin to work on the New Glenn rocket in Florida. Sadly, this meant that we had to leave Colorado, but yay for another adventure. The drive to the Space Coast took us 5 days. It's called the Space Coast because of its spaceports, duh! 🚀 Sean drove up front with the truck and trailer and I followed in my baby Bronco. We communicated via walkie-talkies which is key to staying together and for smoothly passing all the massive trucks along the way. Once you get into the south driving gets pretty scary from thereon in. Of course, we saw a couple of friends along the way. 🙌

We spent our first month in an Airbnb on the beach at Cape Canaveral before finding a more permanent home rental quite close to the Blue Origin Rocket Factory. This is great for Sean as I wouldn't want him driving far after he finishes his shift in the wee hours of the morning. Quite soon after arriving, we saw our first rocket launch. Something I don't think I ever dreamed I would see. It was at around 3 am and we walked down to the beach to watch a rocket that launched 3 astronauts into the atmosphere right in front of our eyes!
Here are some photos of our moving-to-Florida adventure.                                                                                                                                                   
September - new vibes
Life has been pretty different since we got to Florida. Everything feels different, looks different, and is different. The culture, the weather, the people, the food. Since we arrived, we have seen countless rocket launches, alligators, manatees, orange people, boats, and Salt Life stickers. It's lovely to have the ocean so close. Sean even got to catch up with a couple of old friends he hasn't seen in ages.
Sean started his 6-month contract with Blue Origin out near Kennedy Space Center. It’s a really big get for him and I am so proud of him. Blue Origin’s mission is to have people living and working in space to preserve Earth. He’s working on the New Glenn rocket that is going to launch into space, maybe this year or maybe next year. I think it’s awesome and exciting and I wish he could sneak me in to see the rocket. We aren’t sure if they’ll hire him on full-time, but we might be in Florida longer than we anticipated.

October, November, December - starting my own business
Once Sean was working, I had time to start my business. I eventually listened to my friends and family who kept telling me I should sell my photographs. There’s so much to learn even just to set up a little site to sell some prints. It has been a rewarding and sometimes frustrating endeavour learning more about my craft and now the business side. In December, I volunteered for the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count and was placed in a team that counted out at Kennedy Space Center. Rad!!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

2023 turned out to be a really fun if not frenetic year. So much travel, so many visits with friends, so much exploring, learning, and wondering what is next. 2024 is mainly a mystery. I’ll be volunteering at the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival later this month. In June and July, I will be attending a photography school in Missoula, Montana. Our goal of buying a house in Colorado stands, but we know that it might be a long way off which is pretty shocking considering we’re both almost 50. 🤬Speaking of birthdays - I'm heading to Miami next weekend for mine and at the end of July we plan on going back to Vegas for Sean's. I haven’t been back to Las Vegas since we left in 2016, so it will be pretty strange. Vegas crew - we’re coming for ya! I’ll send out some save-the-dates soon.

I am looking forward to this year and seeing what both Sean and I can accomplish. Happy 2024, y'all!!!                                                                                 
PS In future blogs, I'd like to feature my friends' endeavours. If you have a business, please send me a link even if it's just a Facebook or Etsy page. I'd love to give you a shout-out.               
PPS Some photos of art we saw in Denver when we hit up the free days at the museums and galleries.     
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댓글 10개

What an amazing eclectic year! Rocket launches, bird counting, photographs and so much travel!! Nearly 50! Don’t remind me ;) you don’t look a day older than when we met in Scotland in the summer of ’99 (it was ’99, right?).

Lisa Hawkins

What a year!! I love this recap of your awesome adventures and can’t wait to hear about & see pics of all that follow! Much love!


Um, I don’t think I’m in here at all, but still happy for your big move and can’t wait to see you!

Christine Abel

Bad ass year. You guys always do so much. I admire that.

Tara Adkins

Your life is so exciting! I love experiencing your life through the stories and gorgeous photos you’ve shared. So glad you took the step to make it your business! You have so much talent and such great opportunities, you should absolutely be compensated for it! I love my book from your wedding, it’s sitting in my living room right now. You should make more 🫶 SPLAT!


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