Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
From our family to yours!
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Our year began with us back in Iowa with our families, celebrating Christmas in 7 different homes, traveling with Curtis' family to Michigan to see family, traveling with my family to Missouri to some basketball tournaments, and surviving the -30 wind chills that came across the Midwest. That last part made having to leave family just a bit easier when it came time to return to sunny Arizona! I heard that Tucson had the "warmest winter on record" this year, and I can truly say that we relished every moment of it. Every weekend found us outdoors and going new places, as well as small hikes during the week with our letterboxing friends, Mitch, Kathy, and Alex. Curtis was also taking 17 credits that semester, finishing out his junior year.
On our first weekend home after the holidays, we went on our very first peak hike together with Curtis' hiking buddies. It was undoubtedly the hardest thing I've ever done physically, and I didn't think that it could ever be something that I enjoyed. (To be fair, they did throw a 14 mile hike at me to begin with!) Curtis was very understanding though, and after that we cut back on long hikes and focused on taking short letterboxing trips. We went to places around us like Southern Phoenix, Madera Canyon, and Globe, AZ. During the week, we would go on short hikes with friends in Tucson Mountain Park, or on jogs in Sabino Canyon.
For our first Spring Break, we planned a week long adventure that took us to many sites in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. My brother Grant was able to join us, and together we visited places like the London Bridge, Hoover Dam, Zion National Park, Buckskin Gulch, Escalante, Gooseneck State Park, Monument Valley, and Payson, Arizona. We really caught the travel bug after this - we love planning such big and detailed vacations, all we need is to have more time to travel! To finish out the school year, we went to Flagstaff, Jerome, Cottonwood, Tombstone, Contention, and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument with friends. In May, I had a change of heart and decided to give hiking another chance. After hiking Mt. Wrightson with Curtis, I realized how fun it really was, and we began planning and training for more long hikes.
In the last week of May, we traveled back to Iowa to spend a week with family. We made a spur of the moment decision to leave early and surprise them, and that ended up being a highlight of the year. We spent a fun-filled week with them, taking short trips to Sperry, IA, Pike's Peak State Park, and Effigy Mounds National Monument. It was a blast being able to explore Iowa together, but it made the week go by so fast and before we knew it, we were back in Arizona and the temps were above 100 every day!
This summer, Curtis had a research position at the University. He would be there 4 days a week, then we would either be outside braving the heat or indoors putting together puzzles. We started hiking again right away, and we set our goals high - to Mt. Humphreys, the highest point in Arizona! We took a 4 day weekend toward the end of June, where we went North to Flagstaff to enjoy the cooler temps and every National Monument around the area. (Trust me, you need a long weekend - there's a lot up there!) And we were able to reach our goal - the peak of Mt. Humphrey's! In July, we found creative ways to stay cool and still have adventures - whether that meant being underground in a cave, or driving up to the top of a mountain, we were there! We also accomplished our goal of visiting and letterboxing in all 15 counties in Arizona.
July 27 was our first anniversary, and that called for another long weekend trip! This time, we headed West to Santa Barbara and Joshua Tree National Park. We learned that unless you're at the ocean, California is just as hot as Arizona, you're just paying way more for gas. Ha. We had a great weekend though, despite some car troubles, and are enjoying married life together more and more each day!
Curtis began his senior year at the University of Arizona in August. I'm so proud of all that he's accomplished there and how he's excelled. This fall, he only had 12 credits, and is set to graduate in May of 2015 with a double major and a minor. He's pretty amazing! Right now, all he has to do for the Navy is PRT every 6 months and keep his grades up. We still have some time together before our adventure with the Navy begins, and we're doing whatever we can to relish it!
We'll never forget that one fateful Friday in September, when we went to the mall to get BOGO pumpkin spice lattes, and ended up falling in love with a puppy. We'd visited a local puppy store for the past year on a weekly basis, but never fell for any dog as much as we did for this basset hound. We went home, feeling completely torn about the whole situation. As an adult, we are blessed with the freedom to get all the puppies we want, but cursed with the knowledge of how much responsibility it would take. We spent a weekend thinking over it, and even when we decided to not get her, we couldn't stop talking about her. And so, 2 days later, we brought home our very first pet - Charlotte Antebellum, aka Charlie!
Charlotte has been both a source of immense happiness and extreme frustration as we learn to deal with having a toddler. As difficult as she might be some days, we really do appreciate the fact that she loves and is good at 2 of the things we do the most: hiking and road trips! She impressed everyone when at 13 weeks, she hiked all the way up to the top of the tallest peak in Tucson, walking about 6.5 miles that day. No matter what she gets herself into, she is our first child and we'll always love her. While we are appreciating how cute she is during this puppy stage, we're looking forward to when she's matured a bit more, and I know she'll be a great companion for me when Curtis is at sea.
This fall, we were so excited to finally have some of our family come see us in our home! Curtis' dad came to visit in September during the biggest monsoon, and we saw our first desert tortoise while hiking with him. Curtis' mom and sister came to visit in October, and on top of having some adventures in Cochise county, they were the first to meet Charlotte. And finally, my mom came down in November for a week and we enjoyed showing her around Tucson, and even fit in a weekend trip to Sedona. We don't know how much time we have left in Arizona, but there's still time for you to come visit! Book your vacation now! ;)
All of our hiking this fall was considered training for our big hiking trip over Thanksgiving weekend. We, along with our friend Mitch, hiked down the Grand Canyon to the Supai village, where we enjoyed the beautiful blue waterfalls of the Havasu Creek. We hiked a total of 44 miles over 3 days on a trail that was way out of our comfort zone at the time, but now makes for some great stories! When I look back at 2014, I will always remember it as the year I learned to love hiking. I went from miserably hating every step of my first hike to hiking 20 miles in a day, climbing down a muddy canyon wall, and loving it!
And now, here we are again - at the end of another year, looking back on how God blessed us and protected us over 2014. As I see His faithfulness toward us and our marriage, I know that every day we have together is truly a gift, and I am trying to be content and enjoy each moment as it comes. Right now, 2015 is a big uncertainty as we wait for orders to come from the Navy. We're not sure where we'll be living this time next year. But we know that God is sovereign, and He has everything planned out. All we can do for now is trust in Him!
I lift my eyes up to the hills,
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip,
He who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, He who watches over Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you,
He is the shade at your right hand.
The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm,
He will watch over your life.
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now, and forever more.