In complete transparency, 2018 was a hugely transformative year for me. It started very low and is ending on an incredible high, and though I knew it would be adventurous and slightly (okay, more than slightly) chaotic, I had no idea what was actually in store. Though I never lost faith in this mantra, I can really definitively say now that things always find a way to work themselves out in the end. Recently, I was really inspired by the host of the Women on the Road podcast, Laura Hughes, who posted 12 stories on her Instagram that she called 2018×12, which broke down her year with highlights month by month, and I wanted to do the same for myself here. So here is my 2018×12 recap:
- Rang in the new year at a ski resort in Canada with my best Australian friend, Julia, and her entire family.
- Started a new job with a crazy remote schedule and dubbed 2018 my “year of semi-homelessness”. The second week of the job was a ski retreat to Copper Mountain, CO where I finally got the hang of snowboarding!
- After my temporary living arrangements fell through, I ended up on an air mattress back at my ex-boyfriend’s apartment until further notice.
- Temporarily moved into a spare bedroom of a coworker, Elton, who is now one of my closest friends. At this point, I was still super broke from doing a full-time three-month web developer bootcamp at the end of last year and then traveling for five weeks, I didn’t own any furniture (unless you count my air mattress) and had no idea what I was doing.
- Joined a climbing gym, started doing yoga weekly, and went camping and hiking in the Smokies on a weirdly 60º weekend and was the happiest I had been in weeks.
- Started having “dinner parties” with a few coworkers (now friends) in Kentucky. These dinner parties have now grown to include lots more people now and always a fun food theme, and are one of my favorite things about being back in town when I am in Kentucky.
- Went home to my parents’ for a week and re-registered my residency and car there, since I didn’t technically have a home anywhere and wasn’t too sure what was in store for me next.
- Got to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Columbus, OH with an old study abroad friend, explore a hiking trail in Cuyahoga National Park, camp and mountain bike in Knoxville, TN and drink my way through a self-guided brewery tour of Asheville, NC.
- Started really trying to really downsize my possessions with the intent of moving into my Jeep in early May. Sold lots of things on Craigslist and donated lots of things to Goodwill.
- Spent Easter morning watching the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Parkway with my parents.
- Got to prove to a friend visiting from Colorado that Kentucky is actually pretty cool (and remind myself that as well).
- Visited one of my best friends, Hannah, in Austin, TX, as well as a really good friend in Dallas, TX (my ex-boyfriend’s sister-in-law) and was thankfully able to find out that friendship can last through all kinds of situations.
- Built a wooden platform in my Jeep to maximize storage and bed space, and then got a storage unit and moved out of my friend’s apartment and into said Jeep.
- EUROPE. A week-long family vacation in Tuscany, a trip with my sister to Slovenia and Split, Croatia and then back to my solo travel routine through Mostar, Bosnia and Dubrovnik, Croatia.
- I fell in love with Bosnia and made an awesome Couchsurfing friend there who I am planning to go back and visit this fall!
- Summited Mt LeConte (finally) in the Smokies with my uncle.
- Slept in my Jeep for a few nights right outside of my office (literally on Main St), and quickly realized how uncomfortable that was going to be long term. My friend jokingly told me I should get a van.
- Five days later, my Jeep broke down in Atlanta on my way to Florida and I took it as a sign. I was able to thankfully stay at my aunt and uncle’s in the area for five days while it got fixed, where I then panicked and drove to my parents’ to deliver the news that their daughter was going to sell her Jeep and buy and convert a van to live in.
- Went on my first solo overnight backpacking trip in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and felt super empowered.
- Sold my Jeep.
- Bought my van.
- Started to feel like I had a community and a life in Kentucky, and that got me really scared because I didn’t want to feel settled anywhere right now.
- Went on a work retreat in the Smoky Mountains, which connected me closer with my coworkers and got me super motivated to do good work with everything. Like building out a van.
- Van conversion. Van conversion. Van conversion. Van conversion.
- Somehow finished my insane three-week conversion and moved into my van!
- Labor Day weekend surf trip in Charleston, SC with some of my coworkers/friends.
- Finally made it back to Colorado. ❤️
- Took my dad on a five-day #vanlife trip through Utah and southwest Colorado, followed by a killer Stoeckle family wedding/reunion in Denver.
- Fell in love with the desert even more. And mountain biked through it. A lot.
- Attended the first Women on the Road #vanlife gathering in Taos, NM and connected with the most amazing, inspiring and badass women.
- Stayed in one place for two whole weeks (imagine that!), since I had to be back in Kentucky for work.
- Got super fed up with sleeping in the van in the cold. Winter came to Kentucky early and I was over it after effectively being cold since like October 1st in the Rockies.
- Flew back to Denver for nine days and backpacked to Havasupai over Thanksgiving weekend with three other friends. It was incredible.
- Took a Pittsburgh trip with three of my cousins to see the Penguins and Steelers play (and lose).
- Was home for Christmas and all of the Christmas festivities leading up to the holiday, which I am never around for.
- Stayed put for a month, got lots of work done (real work and van work) and watched about million Christmas movies. It was a really nice change to be in one place for so long with heat, reliable wifi and bathroom access!
When I look back on 2018 as a whole, the first half of the year honestly just felt like a big blur of uncertainty, breakdowns and barely getting by, and the second half of the year was when I was finally able to get my adventures started. But looking at this list, it isn’t quite so. I was able to do some really great, unexpected things each month and make some really great, unexpected connections with people all over, especially back in Kentucky where I still end up having to be every few months for work.
And now that I’m looking at the photos I have added to each month here, the biggest common denominator I noticed from them is the people. I have said again and again that I owe so much to my friends, family and even strangers for their kindness and help this past year. Due to my circumstances, I didn’t expect to have much of a community while traveling so much, but I honestly think that my community and connections around the world grew even more this year. I am rarely in one place for more than an month, but being able to visit so many of my friends and family that live all over the place has helped me to solidify or grow connections with them, as well as putting in the extra effort to stay in touch with those who I haven’s seen. Only time will tell, but I hope for this to continue to improve as I keep traveling and putting effort into keeping in touch with everybody.
So in conclusion, lots went into this year, and it truly ended up being one of the best years of my life. A year where I learned to let go, go with the flow and to keep pushing myself towards the next great adventure. The sky is the limit, and I am both exhausted and anxiously waiting to get my 2019 adventures started. So I guess a little bit longer at my parents’ would be good for me, and then I’ll get going. 🙂 Next stop: Mexico City!