Everyone knows 2016 was the “worst year ever” and we are witnessing the start of the apocalypse. But despite the celeb deaths and the captain of the lollipop guild we are now stuck with for 4 years, 2016 wasn’t entirely dire for me on a personal level. If anything, I’d say it’s been a year of extremes and transitions; a year in which I zig zagged across the globe on some pretty epic adventures. I went from being in a relationship to single, unemployed to working at an office desk, living out of a suitcase to containing an overflowing closet, and feeling completely unsure about life to having a better understanding of my path and my purpose. I also went from being able to fit in my pants to not, but that’s not a memory I’d like to include in this little ode…
2016 was a year in which I spent 7 months traveling the world and 5 months trying to reintegrate into American society by eliminating words like “rubbish” and “bloody hell” from my vocabulary. Returning home has been challenging in many ways and my life of travel seems like a decade ago; it boggles my mind to think that just earlier this year I lived in New Zealand and 6 months ago I traipsed through a communist bunker in Albania, of all places. I feel like it is a year worth reviewing, if only to remind myself of all the ground I’ve covered and reassure myself that it was all, in fact, real.
January: Living in New Zealand
The start of the New Year found me living in Queenstown, New Zealand. I may have had a terrible job and lived with maniacal Koreans, but my 45 minute bike ride commute sure was pretty.
February: Planning to Not Live in New Zealand Anymore
Let’s be honest, February kind of sucked because it was the month of the breakup but hey, the views were still pretty! A road trip to the Catlins in southern New Zealand and a bikes and wines tour with a friend helped raise my spirits.
March: New Zealand and South Africa
March was crazy! I fulfilled my lifelong dream of swimming with dolphins in the wild and Dave & I took a “breakup moon” (I don’t know if that’s a thing but we made it one) by hiking and kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park. Then I peaced out and flew to South Africa where I visited a friend, hiked and explored Cape Town, and went shark cage diving.
April: A Whole Lotta Africa
April was safari month! I literally spent an entire month on safari. First I did a 3 week overland tour on which we camped in the desert and lived out of a truck as we drove through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. I crossed over into Zambia for a microlight flight over Victoria Falls, and then returned to South Africa to go on a 4-day safari in Kruger National Park. I never need to see a zebra again.
May: Tanzania to Greece
To recover from the dusty safari life I flew to Zanzibar, a tropical island off the coast of Tanzania, and spent a week lying on the beach. Then I headed to Greece and started my month of volunteering at the refugee camp.
June: Greece and Albania
I finished up my time at the refugee camp and then took a road trip and explored some of the Greek islands to recuperate. Several friends had recommended Albania and it was cheap, so I found myself exploring the quirky little country that I never imagined I’d ever go.
July: Netherlands, Belgium, England, Scotland + Homecoming
July was a month of visiting old friends so I flew to the Netherlands to reunite with my favorite traveling buddy, Leonie. Then I popped over to the UK to see some friends around London and then bussed up to Scotland to see one of my best friends from Korea, Jen. After exploring castles galore it was time for the FINAL flight and I returned home to California just in time for my (dun dun dun) 30th birthday.
August: California Road Trips
August was a whirlwind of buying a car, returning temporarily to my old job, moving into a house in Santa Barbara, applying furiously for jobs, and reconnecting with old friends in SB. We also threw in a wine tasting weekend in Paso Robles.
September: Santa Barbara Living
A new job came through sooner than expected and I began my new position as Office Manager and Event Coordinator for an amazing local nonprofit environmental law firm. Going back to an office job after my previous free spirited lifestyle was no joke and I learned that the brain is a muscle that can actually get very out of shape.
October: Desk Job OMG Brain is Melting
October was simply a month of “regular living”: weekend hikes, a few work events, birthday parties, and soaking up the beautiful Santa Barbara I’d missed so much.
November: Yosemite and Norcal Trip
After traveling to 40+ countries I realized I had never even been to one of the most amazing places in my own backyard—Yosemite! We had beautiful weather for my first visit and a casual little 9 mile hike up waterfalls and along the Panorama Trail. I also took a trip to my hometown and had my first Thanksgiving with my family in 10 years.
December: California Festivities
December was typical holiday festivities and a fun little day trip to Hearst Castle, wrapped up with a new years celebration with some of my favorites.
Sitting at home in my own bed, in clothes that I took out of my own closet, eating food that I cooked in my own kitchen, makes it hard to believe that just earlier this year I was living out of a truck in Africa. 2016 had its ups and downs, no doubt, but I’m so grateful for the experiences. I’m not entirely sure what 2017 holds and, while it won’t have the same kind of international element, it’s sure to be filled with just as many (sometimes ridiculous) adventures because that’s just the kind of life I like to live!
Happy New Year!