I kind of can’t get over the fact that it’s been four years since I started So Many Places and put the wheels in motion to go chase down the biggest life I could imagine. I recently had this impulse to gather up all of my favorite photos over the past four years in order to create visual proof that it all happened, that it all continues to happen.
It was hard to select the pictures. I wanted to capture it all. The big things: like visiting the Galapagos Islands or bicycling through Vietnam and the small things: hanging out in hostels, eating from a street stall, sleeping in airports, riding so many buses.
I’m not the sort of photographer that has that gift of capturing the essence of things. I’m much more prone to write down what I’m seeing than to take a picture of it and I frequently forget my camera altogether. So that’s that.
Anyway, this is what I’ve pulled together. 4 years represented by 76 photos.
Here we go…
Year 1: Saving money, beginning to write, selling our house, quitting our jobs, leaving (oh, we were so young and so thin)
We saved money for 3 years. Literally, we saved every single penny as evidenced by my beloved change jar.
This was my first check as a paid writer. I think it was for about $65. Hey, some things don’t change!
My cubicle at work. I had a window and that made me luckier than most.
Brian at work. I think this was his “troll under the bridge” impersonation.
The day we put our house up for sale. I still miss our little home so much.
A few months later we’d sold our house and moved into an apartment. Here I am in the living room showing off my brand new backpack.
This is my last day at work. My friends met up with me afterwards to celebrate. I look pretty happy, don’t I?
Year 2: U.S. National Parks road trip, Ecuador and Galapagos Islands, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil
We look so young in this picture! We’re just a few days into our U.S. National Parks road trip. Here we are on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.
Brian’s taking a break from the summertime heat in Canyonlands National Park in Utah.
The night before we began our rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Brian’s lifelong dream fulfilled: a backpacking trip through Grand Tetons National Park.
My sister dropped us off at the airport on our last day in the States. We’re about two hours away from catching our one-way flight to Ecuador. If we look terrified it’s because we were.
Our favorite place in Ecuador was a little town called Banos that was tucked into the Andes Mountains.
We volunteered in Banos at an after school program called Arte del Mundo. Some of our fondest memories are from our time there.
Our trip to the Galapagos Islands was a highlight. It was the single most expensive place we’ve traveled to so far but it’s worth every penny.
On to Peru. Brian gets suckered into holding this baby goat and tipping these ladies for the opportunity. Cuzco, Peru.
We walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Tried to get the classic triumphant shot but we were photo bombed.
These monkeys that lived at our hotel in Puerto Maldonado, Peru just crushed me.
We spent two days walking in to, and then out of, Peru’s Colca Canyon- the deepest canyon in the world. It was brutal.
The view from the rooftop of our hostel in Arequipa, Peru.
Waiting at the bus stop in Chile. I’d say we’ve spent approximately 300 hours at bus stops in the past four years.
Our friends came down to Chile to backpack with us. Here we are in Puerto Natales waiting to catch the bus (see!) to Patagonia.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
Heaven on earth. Chile.
Here we’re in Argentina’s Patagonia region hiking to the base of Fitz Roy Mountain.
Touristing in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Brian at Iguazu Falls on the Argentina/ Brazil border.
Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Year 3: India, Nepal, Indonesia, Spain, Morocco, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic
That little orange rickshaw named Sunny that I drove through India.
Brian at the Monkey Temple in Jaipur, India.
Strolling through the streets of Jaisalmer, India.
My Portland BFF, Wendy, came to India to visit. I love this photo of her watching the world go by as we ride the train away from Delhi.
Can’t go to India without a visit to the Taj Mahal. This was one of the most important days of my entire travels.
Wendy walking towards the Monkey Temple in Hampi, India.
Sleeping on the floor of the Delhi airport and waiting for our flight to Kathmandu. For awhile there I felt like I practically lived on the the floor of the Delhi airport.
Sharing the road in Sauraha, Nepal.
I wonder how many miles we’ve walked with our backpacks? Here Brian walks towards the bus station outside of Nepal’s Chitwan National Park.
Hiking Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit. We loved every single step.
At Thorong La Pass, the highest point on the Annapurna Circuit (almost 18,000 feet), Brian and I leave prayer flags before beginning our descent.
A few weeks later we arrived in Bali and were invited to a temple to watch traditional Balinese dancing.
I love the temples in Bali. Here we visited the Tirta Empul Temple where the people of Bali cleanse themselves in the sacred springs.
We escaped to Indonesia’s Gili Meno Island to do a whole lot of nothing. Perfection.
Switching continents, I traveled to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago.
Brian and I rented a car and road-tripped through Andalucia. Here we are outside of Trevelez, Spain.
The only photo I took in Morocco.
We used our Eurail passes to ride the trains throughout Europe. Of course we stopped in Paris, one of our favorite cities.
We went to Caussade, France to visit our friends at their French chateau housesit. Seriously.
Market shopping in the French countryside.
Working our way through Belgium’s beers.
Twilight in Amsterdam.
European train station snacking.
Watching western Europe zoom by.
Celebrating Christmas at one of Germany’s many Christmas markets. God bless mulled wine.
Brian braving the snow in Berlin, Germany.
Prague’s Christmas market.
Cold and stunning Budapest.
Year 4: Vietnam, U.S. road trip (47 out of 50 states), Mexico
Kicking off 2014 with a bicycle trip through Vietnam.
Our bike group conquering a six-mile uphill mountain pass. My butt hurt for days.
Outside of a Vietnamese home stay.
Back in the U.S.A. for a job! 65 presentations, 30,000 miles and 47 out of 50 states visited.
We found ourselves in the pages of Backpacker magazine.
Hiking/ working in Arches National Park in Utah.
Camping in Arkansas.
Brian talking to the evening news in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Waiting out the rain in our camping trailer. Stowe, Vermont.
Visiting with our neighbors in our old neighborhood. Portland, Oregon.
Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park, California.
Joshua Tree National Park, California.
Kayaking in the swamp outside of Lafayette, Louisiana.
Mexico! Our home-for-now in Sayulita.
Traditional dancing in Sayulita’s main square.
A blue sky day at the beach in Sayulita.
Thanksgiving in Mexico: margaritas and pumpkin pie.
Every evening ends like this: street tacos, Pacificos, and a walk home under a starry-night sky.
Four years. Brian and I have seen, done and changed a lot. As we contemplate what comes next it isn’t lost on us how fortunate we are to have seen so much of this beautiful planet. In the book Tuck Everlasting Natalie Babbitt writes, “You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.” I think we’ve done that the best way we know how these past four years.