Year in Review: Travel and Life Changes Fueled 2017

To Family, Friends, and Everyone Else:

Let’s cut to the chase. 2017 was a rocky one for planet Earth.

We saw natural disasters frequent all parts of the United States, testing our mental and physical stamina. We saw a plain old disaster enter into the White House. We witnessed the worst mass shooting in our country’s history in Vegas – and then did nothing about it. We’re seemingly on the verge of ‘World War III by Tweet’ every other day and breaking news about our government that just last year would have caused a month-long uproar is superseded by another breaking news story just that day.

And that’s just in America.

But, lucky for you, this isn’t about all of that. This is about me. Shocked? Apparently, you’ve never been here before.

For me, personally, 2017 was amazing – but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have it’s occasional downs that frequent almost all of our lives. But even in those valleys, I could always see the sunshine and I think that’s a pretty important life perspective to have gained.

When you are down, find the good things in your life. Use them, sort of like if you were going to perform a Patronus Charm (#HarryPotter4Life), to keep you motivated so you never lose your true north. Things usually work out and I can attest to that.

2017 began what I’m now dubbing as “The Year of the Travel.”

I rang in the new year in San Francisco where I ventured out on my own (also a small theme this year) but ended up running into some friends and a cousin to make the entire trip even more of a memorable experience.

Having not been in SF since I was a junior in high school, it was amazing to explore the city on my own timeline, while also getting to attend two UofA basketball games against California and Stanford.

Just weeks later, I completed my first half marathon, the Phoenix Rock N Roll. Having never considered myself to be a runner before, I got addicted to the runner’s high and the rigid schedule I put myself on (I even ran 10 miles throughout SF and Golden Gate Park on my vacation). I’m also happy to say I’ll be running it again this year, looking to wallop a big chunk off my time and *fingers crossed* be less sore.

In March, I continued with the travel bug and visited Seattle for the first time and fell in love. The purpose was to run another half marathon, this time around the beautiful Mercer Island, just east of Seattle. But I also really just wanted to visit Seattle because who doesn’t?

Before and after the race I explored as much of the city as I could (as well as the bars themselves because one of the days I was there was St. Patrick’s Day and it was the first round of the NCAA Tournament). I told myself I needed to come back when it was a tad sunnier. I didn’t realize it’d be so soon — more on that below.

In April, I turned 25, embarking on my last full year of health insurance on my parent’s plan. So far I haven’t had to use it, though is it bad that I kind of feel I need to take advantage of it? Eh, regardless, here’s to good health to all of us in 2018.

I honestly don’t know what happened in May, so we’ll skip right through that month…

In June, I took the most amazing road trip of my life through Glacier National Park and Banff National Park (in Canada) which you can read all 2,700 words here if you’d like. To quickly sum up if you refuse to click the link: 1) Hikes were amazing. 2) The scenery was phenomenal 3) Canadians are perplexed with what happened on Nov 8, 2016 4) Find a friend and do a road trip. You won’t regret it.

Then, two weeks later, the traveling continued (and the bank funds weirdly were further depleted) to Lake Tahoe for Fourth of July shenanigans.

If you’re our Airbnb host, please skip over this part…. We had something like 17 people in this massive house a mile from the lake and the entire five-day trip was an epic blast. But before we got there, my brother, a friend, and I drove from Phoenix to Tahoe (saving money, it’s a lifestyle) and made the necessary detour at my favorite place: Yosemite National Park. It felt like I had never left ‘home,’ and that’s the greatest feeling in the world.

This detour wasn’t planned but I just so happened to be wearing my YNP shirt so I think it was a sign or something. Anyways, back to Tahoe, I hadn’t been there in over a decade and getting to spend the time with some of my closest friends on a lake where you could see snow on the mountain peaks across the water, was superb.

We also didn’t burn down the house. That was a good sign.

Mixed in with all the travel was a major life change. I started a new career with Multivista as a Marketing Copywriter and Social Media Coordinator. Over four months in and I love it. The people there are amazing and I feel valued – which I think it a really important aspect of a positive work environment.

But before I started that job, the traveling continued!

I surprised my 88-year old (I think?) grandma with a visit to Chicago and the family’s lake house up in Wisconsin. Getting to spend time with her and see my mom’s side of the family is always a great time. As my grandparents continue to age, I’ve realized you have to maximize the time you see and talk with them because who knows when it’ll be the last time.

Then, two days after landing back in the scorching hot hell known as Arizona, I departed for… SEATTLE!

This was a last minute solo road trip because my job start date got backed up by a week so I figured I’d get some mountains and fresh air into my lungs (jk, Canada was on fire that week so it was smokey and gross for half of it).

Even with the west on fire at this time, it was such a great trip.

I did a couple amazing hikes on my own including Cascade Pass to Sahale Arm (in North Cascades) and Lake of the Angels (in Olympic National Park). I also joined a backpacking trip in the North Cascades for a night on Ross Lake, saw friends in Seattle, met really interesting people at the hostel, and finished it up by traversing all over Olympic National Park and sightseeing in Victoria, British Columbia.

In all, I spent a week out and about, sleeping in my rental car, hammocks, hostels, and on a couch. It was a trip I’d do again in a heartbeat and even if I got lost on a hike and sorta freaked out until technology saved me and mistimed my ferry ride back to the US by three hours prior to my flight, it couldn’t have gone smoother.

My final travel destination was Park City, Utah for my oldest friends bachelor party. After growing up playing sports and getting in trouble for making not-so-wise decisions (sorry everyone), seeing him on the verge of the biggest moment in his life was special.

Mixed into the new job and traveling was *drum roll* me moving out of my parent’s house and living on my own (with two other roommates)! (Cue the confetti and my parents popping champagne.)

For those not directly involved in my everyday life (probably most of you, because you’re family and section 4.1 of the family constitution mandates you read all blogs posted by family members), I’m in Old Town Scottsdale.

Living out here has been nothing but incredible. My roommates are awesome, my friends are close by, and probably most importantly, my drive to work was cut in half. Oh and the bars are right down the street.

Speaking of friends being near, in October, I ventured down the I-10 for my third homecoming at UofA since graduating. Seeing friends and not burning down the AirBnB were both very high on my list of success for the weekend.

But seriously, homecoming is one of my favorite weekends of the year because even though lot of us shoot out across the country after graduation, we’re one big happy family. For a lot of people I know, it’s like the time apart never happened and you pick right back up where you last left it… Well, just with more debt and less of an alcohol tolerance.

Then over Thanksgiving, my entire dad’s side of the family came into town – from the great states of OH-IO and Michigan – though we hold them in less esteem after the day we shall never speak of. Getting to spend time with the grandparents and relatives were fantastic and we had an amazing time.

And if that wasn’t crazy enough, my parents BOUGHT A FREAKING HOUSE! It actually happened and they moved in the week before Christmas… so to say that the holidays were a bit of a mess would be an understatement. (And then my younger brother Austin left for a new job in Colorado also the week before Christmas so he wasn’t with us either.)

Looking back, it was a fun-filled, crazy, exciting, and amazing year filled with laughs, joy, and companionship. I have no idea what 2018 will have in store but I do have some great ideas mulling around my brain that will certainly try to match what I just experienced.

I hope you all had a wonderful year and may the force be with you in 2018.


If you’d like to follow along with me in 2018 or wish to look back on my journey, follow me on Instagram: @UofAlec