Monday, December 30, 2013

An Ode to 2013

2013 was an amazing, adventure packed year that, as usual, went by way too quickly. There were travels-a-plenty as I collected a few more stamps in the passport and covered ground in Tasmania, New Zealand, Oahu, Germany, Belguim, The Netherlands, The Apostle Islands and a trip around all the Great Lakes. 2013 packed so many trips, I literally only had a temporary job for a quarter of the year!

Any bit of envy you might be having though, stop! I can assure you 2014 will be a big year of "buckling-down" with every penny I earn going straight to savings as I plan on heading back to university (again) to work on completing my degree. Third times a charm, right? But before I get too boggled down with the future, here's what made up one of my most exciting years!


The year started with a bang as I watched the Sydney Harbor fireworks alongside some of the closet members of my Sydney gang. It was hectic trying to get a decent view, but fighting crowds is all about the experience, right?! The first week was amazing, hot bliss as I completed my last days of handing out MX newspapers, ensuring me plenty of final snorkels in my favorite Sydney beach, Clovelly.

I started paying final, good-bye visits to all my favorite places around Sydney before moving-out of my room and packing my bags in anticipation for my first adventure of 2013, a two-week road trip around Tasmania! My travel buddy and I were nervous as we heard about the harsh bush fires ripping through part of our route only a week prior to our arrival, but fortunately it didn't interfere at all with exploring the many wonders. 

I arrived back from Tasmania to my final hours in Sydney, where I used my 23rd birthday to fly out of it! When I booked my flight I was very ready to leave Sydney, so I thought the best gift to myself, for my birthday, would be a flight out of it! Ha, my relationship with Sydney was very love/hate for those of you fortunate enough to never have to hear my rantings about the city! 


February was spent utilizing a brilliant plan of breaking-up my flight back home with a couple pit-stops; the north island of New Zealand and Oahu, Hawaii. They proved to be a great distraction from leaving what was my home for the past year and a half. I was excited for all the new adventures I was having and returning home, to Wisconsin, for the first time in nearly two years, even if it meant leaving warm southern-hemisphere summer for the harsh Wisconsin winter. 


My reconnecting with home life was short lived as I prepared to fly, yet again, to Germany. This road trip I was accompanied, and chauffeured, by my international lover/my German and I guess you could even more formally call him, my boyfriend, Torsten. We drove around Belgium and the Netherlands before visiting his family back in Germany. While I barely had the budget to take this trip, it was significant that I did. Not only was I seeing Torsten in person for the first time in 5 months, but I got to meet his father, who had been diagnosed with a severe case of brain cancer and passed-away only a few months after my visit. That trip cleaned out my bank account, but I never once regretted it for that experience alone. 


I wrapped up my Euro-trip just in time for my best friend's wedding celebrations! Wisconsin did not spare me the true, winter experience I had been without for two years. April was coooold. I had plenty of time to spend inside where I launched my website, watched my nieces and nephews and job searched. There was also plenty of chudding out on Taco Bell. 


May was quite possibly the most uneventful month. I landed a small, rather unfulfilling job but continued to search for another. Became use to corresponding virtually with Torsten again, made extra dollars by donating plasma and was glad to be in a country that knows how to make mean margaritas (Australia doesn't do Mexican very well). What motivated me was the finding of a list of 100 things to do in Wisconsin during summer. That list led me to landing a more exciting job at a kayak tour company in the northern-most part of the state. By the 30th I was making the five-hour drive to Bayfield!


Spending the summer in Bayfield & The Apostle Islands was proving to be an unforgettable experience. Even being an "office lady", I was invited to paddle along the mainland sea caves, a gorgeous bog and even an overnight trip on one of the uninhabited islands. I didn't let all the excitement of discovering these hidden gems keep me from making a short trip back home to celebrate the big-birthday-bash held for three of my nieces and nephews. They all have birthdays within a month of each other, resulting in festivities that include a bouncy castle and a barbecue that attracts family from all around. 


Bayfield was all beer, berries and bonfires this month. Many nights were spent gathering on the balcony of our boarding house drinking and people-watching the summer crowds going through town. As the many berry farms invited folks to pick from their fields, days in the office had breaks to snack on all their goodness. More exploring of the islands and a couple fun paddles happened, one of which was on 4th-of-July night, where we had a prime view of all five local firework shows going off along the lake. All while in a kayak. Priceless. 


The beginning of August had busy shifts in the office by day and fun with the crew by night. As summer started winding down, so did my shifts, enabling me to much needed exploring of the area around Bayfield. I caught the ferry and biked around Madeline Island, snorkeled and sunbathed the local beaches while still drinking plenty of beer and eating just as many berries, and now even cherries. 


I had my last lunch on the kayak launch, peering over Lake Superior and the islands as the summer paddling season ended. I had a last hurrah with the crew before loading my car and driving back home located on the other great lake, Lake Michigan. I had a couple weeks of hanging with my dog on the beach and planning for the arrival of Torsten's first visit to the U.S.! He landed in Chicago where we spent the final days of September exploring and falling in love with the city... and even more with each other! 


The Federal Government Shut-Down may have altered the route of our three-week road trip (initially intending to head out west,to several national monuments and parks), but it didn't prevent us from having a great time! We opted for a road trip around all five of the Great Lakes, with a heap of impressive rural and urban stops along the way. The best part of the trip was getting an uninterrupted, full month of physically being with my German since early spring. Nothing can top that. 


After Torsten sadly flew back home, I knew it was time to find a more serious job. I only managed to land one promotion for State Farm at a Packer game, and as fun as that was, it wasn't enough. I continued to donate plasma and focus on job-hunting. As boring as that may sound, at least the month was kept plenty exciting with a family photoshoot, the arrival of my best friend's baby and the fist snowfall. I also had some spare time to bond with my pets and study the language of [my] love. 


December had a slow beginning, though definitely revved up mid-month with preparing and celebrating Christmas. Much time was spent with family, as this time should be. And I finally braved the cold by taking up snowshoeing. Between the merriment, gift-giving and admiring the freshly fallen snow, I also landed a job.

And now as I write this post in the final days of the year and this month, I can't wait for what 2014 may bring. I know it won't start all all that exciting, aside from NYE celebrations, but that doesn't mean it couldn't turn out to be just as unpredictable as 2013!

Here's to another great year of being alive,
Happy New Year!

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