As the final days of 2013 are winding down and everyone is gearing up for 2014, it is time once again to look back over the last year and consider how awesome the majority of the year was. (Of course, there were some frustrating times, most recently revolving around future job possibilities, but those are more than overshadowed by the fantastic adventures the year offered up on a silver platter.)
Following in the footsteps of my 2012 year in review blog, here is the best of In Search of the End of the Sidewalk- 2013.
Best Books of 2013
Looking back over last year’s wrap-up entry, it looks like I ended 2012 having read ninety-four books. I beat that by seven, tagging out of the literary ring at 101 this year! With so many great (and not so great) books on my list over the last twelve months, this one got its very own post this year, so click here to link to the best (and worst!) of my 2013 reading list.
Best Outings* of 2013
(*in no particular order)
1- The Maldives- This is my new favorite place on Earth! It was so beautiful and relaxing with the clear blue skies and brilliant blue waters. I learned to snorkel, which was amazing (and terrifying for a non-swimmer like myself) and officially had a sunburn within four hours of touching down, but I’d go back in a heartbeat!
2- Italy/Greece- Happy 15th anniversary! To celebrate fifteen years of marriage, we flew to Europe – our first taste of the Old World. And taste we did! I’m pretty sure I ate enough pasta and gelato to tide me over until we get a EUR posting with Foreign Service. (Fingers crossed?) Plus, we (meaning Thad) drove a restored Fiat 500, we climbed to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and we hung out with the fashionably dressed Vatican guards. Not a bad way to spend a few weeks in the fall!
3- Taiwan- I’ve always heard that Taiwan is everything great about China, without the less desirable aspects. I didn’t really understand the whole “China-lite” cliché until spending a long weekend with great friends who are posted there. Not only did I do some major bookstore shopping (I miss good bookstores!) and ate a ridiculous number of strangely shaped waffles, but we got to bike around the city and enjoy a relaxing weekend with some of our favorite Foreign Service folks.
4- Idaho/Yellowstone- Two weeks in Idaho flew by last spring. It is always great to see a blue sky again, but even better to catch up in person (although Skype and Facetime really are terrific!) with friends and family. I shopped and I ate, but mostly I hung out with the people who mean the most to me.
5- Bamboo Sea- As a part of my ongoing CLO Outing adventures, I took about twenty people on an overnight trip to Bamboo Sea, a beautiful forest filled with millions of bamboo trees. After risking my life on a terrifying cable car, we rowed across a peaceful lake and enjoyed meal after meal of bamboo cooked in every style imaginable. This was a great trip out of the city, even with a few hiccups along the way.
Best Moments* of 2013
(*again, in no particular order)
1- Hosting friends from home during November. We were lucky to have Justin and Josh join us for several weeks this fall, making Chengdu their home away from home. We all attended the Marine Ball together, they traveled with Thad to Malaysia and Singapore (I had to work in Shanghai that week) and we ate lots of great Sichuan food. It’s always nice to have folks from home make the 24(+) hour trip to China to visit and we are always happy to host.
2- Receiving Thad’s new assignment, via email, while we were in Taiwan with friends. I must admit to a bit of shock, as I didn’t remember even listing Kuala Lumpur on our (his!) bid list, but after a bit of research, it appears that we did and we are thrilled! (I can’t wait for sunshine and warm, year round. This girl was meant to live on the equator!)
3- Volunteering at the BiFeng Panda Base was amazing, mostly because I got to touch a panda and I’m pretty obsessed with touching all the animals, all of the time. (Okay, technically, touching a panda was against the rules, but this is one regulation I had to break. When the guide wandered away, leaving me mere inches from the giant panda, there was nothing to be done but reach out and make contact. Who wouldn’t have done the same thing?!)
4- River “rafting” at QingCheng Shan was one of the more entertaining things I’ve done all year long. I expected Idaho-style river rafting, but instead was loaded into a two-person raft and sent down a three-feet deep man-made gauntlet, where water gun wielding parties met us at each turn, soaking the foreigners and creating mayhem. It was awesome!
5- It just sneaked in before the end of the year, but definitely won itself a spot in the top 5- my brother and sister-in-law announced a new addition to their ever-growing family. Baby #3 will be born in late August, putting Thad and I at the rather large total of twelve nieces and nephews! Congratulations Matt and Kristina (and Audrey and Kellen)!
So there you have it, a roundup of the high points of 2013. While the year has flown by, I can only imagine 2014 will go with the same speed, as we face another big move, I face another job change and a whole new set of sidewalks are presented for continued searching.