Published: October 31st 2011October 31st 2011
Hello everyone! If you followed our blogs in 2009-2010, you’ll be happy to know we’re firing it up again for our next adventure. Alas, it is not nearly as exotic as our previous journey. I won’t be able to recount tales of glacier trekking or tiger taming or 101 ways to get detained in Australian customs (twice). But what I can tell you is what Jeremy and I have been up to for the past year, and where we’re heading next!
(If you’re new to our blogs, you have a lot of catching up to do! If you'd like to read our previous blogs, you can go right to our homepage at www.mytb.org/aerogers, where you'll find everything listed. To help in the meantime, I've added a 'highlight reel' of some of our best photos from Asia and New Zealand in this blog - for instance, the panorama above was our view of Queenstown, NZ, while we were snowboarding there last year! There are 120 pictures, so make sure you scroll through the extra pages to see them all. Also you can click on any of them to view them larger. Enjoy!)
We arrived back in the U.S. on December
5th, 2010, after 14 months abroad in New Zealand and southeast Asia. When we left the states in 2009, things were still pretty stable. The economy was starting to dip, but for the most part everyone was doing okay. In the 14 months that we were gone, the country changed so much that we scarcely recognized it when we arrived home. People that had been doing so well when we left were suddenly losing jobs, losing homes, losing all sense of security. Jobs were (and still are) scarce in a lot of places. We figured we’d cruise right back into full-time work like we had before we left, save up for our next voyage, and be on the road again before the year was out.
Well, it didn’t exactly work out that way. We’ve been home just shy of a year, working part-time and–like everyone else–learning to simplify and cut back. Granted, we lived VERY simply while we were on the road–there’s only so much you can fit in a backpack–but having to adopt that same mindset at home has been a challenge. I’m grateful that we took the opportunity to go to New Zealand when we were able
to, because if we tried to make it happen now, it simply wouldn’t be feasible. Times have changed, as I’m sure you would agree.
But, with all of that said, we’ve still had a fantastic time being back in Florida. We’ve reconnected with old friends, made some new ones, and managed to squeeze in a little bit of traveling along the way. Back in January Jeremy helped a friend move cross-country and drove nearly 4,000 miles from Seattle, Washington, all the way back to Palm Beach. In July I was fortunate enough to snag a week off work to go visit Stacey and Becks, my buddies from New Zealand, while they were on holiday in England.
Mostly, though, we’ve just been sitting here scratching our heads, trying to figure out where to go from here. Living abroad for that length of time definitely changed us, individually and as a couple. And although we love Florida and it will always be home to us, we no longer feel as though we really “fit” here.
The reverse culture shock we experienced coming back to the states was unexpected and, at times, a little overwhelming. We spent a year on
Wangfujing Night Market, Beijing
All the bizarre foods you could ever want to eat!
a totally different frequency, living in probably one of the most chilled-out, quiet countries on the planet. Coming back to America, especially at the start of Florida’s busy winter season, was like flipping the station from smooth jazz to deafening heavy metal. Or a quiet walk through the woods followed by a harrowing sprint across an eight-lane highway at rush hour. Or having a glass of wine every night and switching it up to fifteen shots of espresso before bedtime. Pick your analogy. It all adds up to the same bizarre sense of disconnect, the same thought (when you actually have the time to think): Wow, did I really used to move at this pace, be this stressed out, this consumed with the day-to-day worries of life?
It’s not something you’d even notice or think about until you’re away from it for a year.
Gradually, though, we grew accustomed to the faster wavelength. We got used to living here again, and maybe if you’ve never lived abroad that doesn’t make much sense. The only way I can explain it is that life is different outside our borders. Yes, there are problems. Yes, people still have to deal with stress
and illness and economic hardship. But the focus
is different. We Americans (and yes, I’m fully including myself in this discussion) tend to dwell so much on the negative, on what’s wrong with our lives and our families, on all the things we want but don’t have. There’s very little sense of contentment with whatever we do
have. We’re always striving for that bigger house, the newer car, the better job. We can’t swing through a drive-thru and order a small fry. What do we do? We super-size it. We live (or try to live) super-sized lives.
The rest of the world does not live like that. Of course there are wealthy people everywhere, and there are countries and societies more opulent than our own. But one of the most refreshing things about our time in New Zealand was seeing how comparatively little our friends there had (in a material sense) and how much happier
they were! They didn’t care if their car wasn't brand new. They were happy that they had something to get them around. They didn’t care if they lived in a little rented apartment. They were happy that they had a roof over their heads.
Who could forget our 90-year old Sherpa who led us on a marathon hike across the Great Wall of China?
They didn’t care if they didn’t have the most glamorous or high-paying job in town. They were happy that they could pay their bills and have just a little bit left over for themselves. It was such a drastic turn-around to what we’re used to in the states, where we’re all too exhausted chasing after that next “must-have” thing that we scarcely take the time to appreciate the things we already have.
So Jeremy and I have really been trying to focus on adopting that mindset. And for the most part, we have. However, we’re going on close to three years since we’ve had our own place to call home. Which is why, when a message from one of our friends first planted this idea into our heads, we took it and ran.
Some of you may remember from our blogs our Swedish friend Bjarne, a co-worker at Rydges Hotel (and my ever-so-patient snowboard instructor). Well, this past winter, Bjarne was lucky enough to land a job working in Vail, Colorado for the ski season. Although we heard how wonderful of a time he was having there, we didn’t think much of it, figuring by next winter we’d
have our own plans well under way.
Well, here it is, nearly winter again...and we have zero plans. Other than to keep doing what we’re doing (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). But when Bjarne messaged Jeremy a couple weeks ago, saying that Vail was starting to hire again for the winter and we should really check it out, we figured, “Hey, what do we have to lose at this point?”
So Jeremy and I applied for jobs in Vail, Colorado.
Less than a week later, Jeremy was hired by the same company Bjarne worked for–Colorado Mountain Express, which operates a shuttle service between Denver and the major ski resorts.
Less than a week later, here we are, packing whatever possessions we have into our cars.
And a week from now, we will be sitting in our new apartment in the tiny town of Red Cliff, Colorado, just a few minutes outside of Vail. At the moment, I do not have a job secured for myself. However, I’m confident that some restaurant out there will take pity on a wayward Floridian and hook me up with some sort of bartending job for the winter. (Of
course, I can always take advantage of my free ski pass, too, and snowboard all day while Jeremy works! Needless to say, that idea isn’t going over too well.)
Truthfully, we’ve never thought about anything less. Making New Zealand happen involved 18 months of careful planning and saving and researching and calculating. Neither of us have ever been to Colorado, nor do we really know anyone there. But we figure if we can fly to the other side of the world, where we knew no one and nothing, with no jobs, no car, and no place to live, and we made it work...surely we can make it work here at home, can’t we? And with an apartment, two cars, and one job secured, we’re miles ahead of where we were when we landed in Auckland two years ago. So yes, it’s a little scary. It’s a big plunge. But we’re ready for the next challenge.
Our drive across the country will take us over 2,200 miles through Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and on into Colorado over the course of five days. Our mascot will once again be Hungry (for those of you new
to my blogs, Hungry was our much-adored adorable red furry googly-eyed critter we took all over the world with us). Hungry has a new buddy, though–we’re also taking our dog, Denali, who is going to dig into her Husky roots and get her first taste of winter! We’ll be keeping you updated over the next six months with photos and stories of what it’s like to live at an elevation of 9000 feet above sea level in a town that experiences upwards of 500 inches of snow every year.
Ha! Two Floridians and a Floridian Husky, toughing it out for a long winter in North America’s premier ski destination. If nothing else, it will be entertaining. Catch you guys from the road!
There are more photos below