Friday, August 3, 2012

A Year In Review

We left off exactly 1 year ago with our 1 year anniversary trip to Estes Park, CO. Shortly after returning home our mercury thermometer broke due to the excessive and prolonged heat that occurred in Texas during the 2011 summer. We had to break out the multi-meter to see just how hot it was on our porch.

In late September John and Carla came to town for Austin City Limits Music Festival. We all had a great time. The festival is well done. The grounds are very clean and everyone is super friendly.

In October my parents came down for about 10 days to spend some time with us and enjoy Austin. They were here over Halloween so we carved pumpkins.

Near the end of October Leah received the great news that she was accepted for a contract position at PayPal!

Over Thanksgiving we traveled to Phoenix to spend the holiday with Ian and Julie's family as well as John and Carla and Julie's parents Jon and Kathy. Ian and I decided about 3 months before Thanksgiving that it would be a great idea to grow our beards out for the holidays and pictured below is the result. Not bad. Ian had also recently purchased an International Scout. I was super excited about this and he let me take it for a drive. Way cool!

We celebrated Christmas here in Austin as we did not have the time nor the finances to travel back home. We did everything right though, tree, stockings, presents and a big dinner.

In early February I built up a new mountain bike. It is a full suspension Kona Hei Hei 29'er. In June 2011 I broke my tailbone mountain biking and so needed something a bit more plush for the exceedingly rough Texas trails. It takes care of me well! The best way to describe the ride is to imagine riding down trails on a Lazy Boy.

In mid-February a good friend of mine from college, Ben Bittner, came to town and visited for a couple of days. We took him out for some Home Slice Pizza and a bike ride in the hill country.

About a week after Ben's visit Chris and Jackie came down from Denver for the weekend and we had a great time. They were only here for a short while but we managed to have fun, which included a sunny walk on the greenbelt and Salt Lick BBQ.

During Spring Break Marie and I traveled to Big Bend National Park in SW Texas for a few days of backpacking. The park was even more magnificent than we expected. It provides high alpine climate and scenery at the southeastern corner of one of the world's largest deserts. This picture is looking towards Mexico over the Rio Grande Valley, about 7,000ft below us.

April and May went by pretty quickly. The last 2 months of school finished up as well as they could have and Leah was busy with work. In late April John and Carla came down for a visit. It was pretty quick but we did have a good time. This picture was taken at Abel's on the Lake.

In June, Leah received the great news that she was being converted to a permanent position at PayPal. It has proven to be a giant leap forward for her professional career! She enjoys the work and the environment.

Near the end of June Leah and I traveled back to Michigan to see family for 6 days. We spent the first 3 days at Horsehead Lake with my side of the family. Leah and I were even able to go sailing together!

We spent the second 3 days at Crystal Mountain/Crystal Lake with Leah's side of the family. The weather was superb and a great time was had by all. I also got to take my first ever ride in Leah's 
    namesake Chris Craft that her Dad restored!

On the 4th of July we flew from Traverse City to Minneapolis. Neither of us had ever flown from Traverse City. I would do it again just for the view below of Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.

Upon arrival in Minneapolis we sped through their hyper-efficient airport and retrieved our rental car, which we drove to Duluth for their spectacular fireworks display. We stayed in Canal Park and could see the fireworks from our balcony.  For those of you who have never been there, Duluth is certainly worth a look. Canal Park was beautiful.

Finally the reason for traveling to Minnesota in the first place, the wedding of Ben and Joy Bittner. The wedding was about an hour north of Duluth right on the shore of Lake Superior.  Both the event and the setting were great. The ceremony was literally on the edge of the lake, very cool!

Leah and I found some time to do some sightseeing while we were there. We hiked to High Falls in Tettegouche State Park and viewed Split Rock Lighthouse on the way back.  Ever since I looked through my first lighthouse calendar as a young kid I had wanted to see Split Rock firsthand. The lighthouse itself can just be seen in the background. The park was charging some obscene admission fee to get close to it, so we found an alternative.

Earlier in the summer Marie and I had considered a quick backpacking trip to the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. Unfortunately the area was experiencing the worst wildfire in it's history. By mid-July we were back from up north and the wildfire was 95% contained so we decided to give it a shot. When we arrived we were told that there was no way that we would be able to access the trails as the wildfire-induced flash flooding danger is far too high. With our backpacking plans up in smoke we embarked on a semi-epic car tour of the mid-latitudes of New Mexico, including the Gila Cliff Dwellings, Signal Peak Fire Lookout, The Aldo Leopold Wilderness, The Lincoln National Forest, Carlsbad Caverns and dinner with our Uncle Jack! All in all a great trip.

Leah's birthday was Saturday July 21. We started the day with donuts and mimosas at home. Next we went paddle boarding on Town Lake with Marie and Ryan. And then dinner at Abel's on the Lake with a group of friends followed by "Better Than Sex Cake" for everyone at our place. Leah is now 26!

July 31 was a very special day for Leah and I. It was our 2nd anniversary! We can hardly believe that 2 years have gone by already. Leah put together a little re-creation of our wedding on July 29. I never did get over the fact that I didn't get a piece of cake at our wedding so Leah made the same kind and now I must forever hold my peace! We celebrated the official day with dinner out at The Driskill Grill here in Austin.

Coming up in the near future is a partial move to Houston, TX for approximately 20 months as I will be attending graduate school at The University of Texas Health Sciences Center. We have an apartment lined up not far from a dog park and are sort-of looking forward to the change in scenery. Leah has the opportunity to work from home 2 days a week and so will work from Houston 2 days and stay with Marie and Ryan in Austin for 3 days each week. In a perfect world it would be considered less than ideal but in reality it should work out pretty darn well.

Way out in the future is a very big event in the wedding of Chris Lane to Jackie Larson! October 2013 can't come soon enough. We are very excited to say the least.

We hope that you've enjoyed this review of our past year and that you're all doing very well. As always please keep us updated on the current events in your lives.

Love Leah and Jay.

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