Friday, December 30, 2011

Quite the Year

I will remember 2011 as the year that I got to do an incredible amount of traveling... enough to possibly even get it out of my system for awhile, if you can believe that. I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to have seen so many new places and spent time with people I loved. Here's a quick recap, mostly in photos.

I started the year in Gunsan, South Korea where I was finishing a year-long teaching contract. It had snowed on Christmas and didn't get above freezing for the whole month of January. I'd pass this snow-covered Buddhist temple on my bike ride. (Yes, I learned how to cycle in the snow.)
Our school had a winter English camp, and I taught the drama class, in which I wrote and directed a modern musical version of the Wizard of Oz for 64 middle school students. They sang "Help" by the Beatles, among other songs, and luckily some of my awesome Korean coteachers choreographed the dances.
In February I went to Australia to visit my dear friend Scott. We hiked around the Grampians National Park (as well as we could with all the trail closures after the floods) and saw emus and kangaroos and some of the oldest petroglyphs on the planet.
We also drove to Sydney and back via the coast, stopping for caves and fresh oysters and local cheese and beaches.
Then I headed to Southeast Asia for a month, where I had one of the absolute craziest experiences of my life- riding a motorbike in Saigon, Vietnam. I managed to stay alive and avoid accidents, and even drove onto a ferry with a kazillion other bikes.
In Cambodia I watched the sunrise over Angkor Wat.
In Thailand I visited a couple friends, took a cooking class, and made it out to some islands.
In April I was back home to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest in spring.
I didn't want to leave town again before going to our annual family work party on Memorial Day weekend in the San Juans.
Then it was off again, for a long-awaited trip to Europe, where I hadn't traveled in over 10 years. I met up with Cherie, who I had met in Korea, and we traveled in Spain and walked a bit of the pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago.
We went to Barcelona together, then parted when I flew to Italy. I started in the north and volunteered on a farm in Piedmont.
From there I made my way down the coast to Genova and Cinque Terre...
... and then to another farm in Tuscany.
In August I came back home to the warm summer, and made sure to do plenty of hiking, including a trip to the Olympics.
In September my Australian friend came to Seattle for the World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships, and I ended up watching a lot of bike polo at Magnuson Park.
I also went to Mount Rainier for a group campout weekend, which happened to also consist of a historical 1899 roleplay murder mystery game.
Later in the fall, the whole family took a trip to Seabrook on the Washington coast.
Well, there were of course a million other things that happened, but those were some of the highlights. Can't wait to see what 2012 brings. Happy New Year!

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