2016 wrap up

My official degree!

The second half of 2016 was a whirlwind. After graduating and leaving Boise, Kevin and I drove across the country (again) to leave Meeko at my sister’s apartment so we could fly out of Boston airport to Iceland and Paris.

Thanks to cheap flights, that monthly discount on Airbnb, and a limited food budget (mostly baguettes), Kevin and I stayed in Paris for a month. This was Kevin’s first international trip, so it felt really special to share something that has been so important with him.

Hanging out in Paris
The chandelier at Palais Garnier (Paris Opera House)

We spent most of our time going to museums and gardens, with bakery stops in between.

I still owe Kevin back for the trip (because you know I didn’t have that kind of money saved up on a graduate student salary!), but between my graduating and him starting his own MFA program this fall, we agreed it was worth the risk while we had the free time.

After Paris we drove back across the country and stopped in Laramie to find a place to live. We snagged a still-being-renovated apartment with a fenced yard which Meeko was very excited about. The apartment is one of four in a renovated, hundred year old house. Two of our windows have breaks in the glass. The bathroom was built on what used to be a deck. But, it is almost twice the size of our Boise apartment… for the same price. While I’d hoped to find a place in a newer building for the sake of cheaper heat, Kevin and I stuck to our budget and signed a 10 month lease. The whole time we were apartment hunting in Laramie, we stayed in another Airbnb in Northern Colorado where our host made us delicious breakfast every morning. Meeko made friends with the black lab, and overcame her fear of the deck.

A familiar sight. This has been the best roadtrip car!

At the end of the summer, we spent a month living in Nampa with his mom while I commuted to Boise to teach two summer camps for a new startup. After that, it was off to Laramie, officially! I put my budget organizing and decorating skills to use and hit up Craigslist, yard sales, and the local oddity/flea market, Bart’s. (If you are ever driving on I-80 and need a place to stop and walk around, go check out Bart’s! You never know what you’re going to find there. Except wagon wheels, there’s always wagon wheels.)

Meeko enjoying the couch.

The best find was a brown couch with an embroidered scene of horses running across the plains. Too perfect.

It took a while to get settled in Laramie, and I am still figuring out the best way to cobble together multiple streams of income while I build up my new business. But, the cost of living is pretty low out here. I don’t go out to do much other than events with the University of Wyoming’s MFA program. A few years ago I might not have liked that, but right now, it is kind of perfect. I spend seven days a week working on projects from home, writing, consulting, building up my websites, and constantly looking to that future I hope to have.

3rd Street in Laramie, on the edge of downtown.

Kevin is loving his program, I’m enjoying how much I can focus on work here, and Meeko is eating all the snow she can. On to 2017!

Yellowstone National Park

I had time for one short road trip before my summer job(s) got going, so Kevin and I decided to drive to Yellowstone National Park. Neither of us had been before, and despite researching and staring at maps, we didn’t know what to expect. I saw a lot of animals– grizzly bears, black bears, bison, deer, mule deer, elk, pika, ravens, osprey, voles, chipmunks, and many other birds as well. On the second night, we heard a pack of coyotes howling outside of our campground. Meeko had to stay home for this trip, so she had her own stay-cation with a friend of mine.

Another thing I didn’t realize about Yellowstone is that the park is pretty built up. If someone wanted, they could eat all their meals at restaurants, stay in hotels, and have hot showers every day. Or, if camping and cold water are more your style, there’s that option too. Winter lasts for about 8 months there, so the summer months get very busy with visitors. Even though during the day I was hiking in light long pants and a light sweatshirt (unless I was in the direct sun), our campsite dropped to 30 degrees F in the nighttime. Brrrr. Three of the four nights a thunderstorm happened right over our campground. Yellowstone weather is quite unpredictable, so pack everything.

Here are some pictures from the trip!