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2016, a Year in Review

Happy New Year from Bruno, Brittany and Totoyaya!

Happy New Year from Bruno, Brittany and Totoyaya!

Happy New Year, friends!   I do love the start of a new year.  It’s an excuse to reflect on a parcel of time, to reminisce about the things that have passed, and to plan for the year at hand.  (Confession: I do make resolutions, even though I know they never work!)

Accordingly, it’s the time to write a 2016 Year in Review post, something that has become somewhat of a happy tradition here at Wandering Footsteps (for me if not for anyone else).  And so, in lieu of my Monthly Wrap-Up, let it be today a Yearly Wrap-Up.

Bruno and I rang in 2015 in the desert of Sudan, bush camping by sand dunes and snorkelling on the best coral reef I’ve ever experienced while awaiting passage on a ferry that would take us out of Africa and into the Middle East.  2015 then became a year of incredible travel statistics – 13 new countries, 4 continents, and 2 massive road trips.

This time last year we rang in the New Year with extended family at a luxurious villa in Morocco.  And somehow, 2016 has ended up being about those things – being in homes and being with loved-ones.

The start of 2016 - in a rented luxury villa in Morocco with extended family - set the tone for a 2016 that was very home-based and family-oriented.

The start of 2016 – in a rented luxury villa in Morocco with extended family – set the tone for a 2016 that was very home-based and family-oriented.

While living in our house in France for three months, we had the pleasure of spending Easter with Bruno

While living in our house in France for three months, we had the pleasure of spending Easter with Bruno’s family, of photographing that moment, and of offering it to Bruno’s mom for her 80th birthday.

If you’ve followed Wandering Footsteps this year, you know that we haven’t been as mobile (read “exciting” – this is a travel blog, after all) as previous years.  2016 has involved a lot of living in homes-without-wheels (much to Bruno’s dismay!).  We spent almost three months living in our home in southern France, the entire summer at my parents’ home in New Brunswick, several weeks living at the home of our family friends in Toronto, returned to our home in France for three weeks, and just spent Christmas in an Air BnB cottage in Los Angeles (more on that in a future post).

While I have enjoyed getting a chance to build a routine, cook a lot, and appreciate the bit of extra comfort that living in a home allows, I admit that we may have overdone it this year with our home living!

An amazing moment in Morocco while camper vanning with my parents.

An amazing moment in Morocco while camper vanning with my parents.

A family reunion this summer in New Brunswick, and the first time Bruno met a lot of very important people!

A family reunion this summer in New Brunswick, and the first time Bruno met a lot of very important people!

Along with our newfound domesticity this year, we did a lot of socializing (much to Bruno’s dismay, again – I have a feral man for a husband!).  We started the year off with family in Morocco, and then showed an old friend of mine what living in Totoyaya was like, also in Morocco.  This spring, we spent a lot of time with Bruno’s French family, and I also received a visit from an old English friend of mine.  This summer, I visited a couple friends in New York and Washington, DC, and then spent the summer and fall introducing Bruno to our long-time friends and family from New Brunswick to Toronto and down to New York City as well.  Last but not least, we returned to France to host Bruno’s extended family at our home for another mini family-reunion.

We’ve never had this social of a year, ever!  I am eternally grateful to all the people who hosted us and visited us this year.  It filled my heart with warmth and love, though, yet again, we may have overdone it slightly (can you tell we’re all or nothing people?).  I do expect that now that we’re in North America, the trend of seeing family and friends will continue in 2017.  Mark your calendars!

My friend Sahnah came to visit Bruno and I in Morocco.  It had been a few years since someone pitched a tent beside Totoyaya.  It was so good to get to introduce her to our lifestyle!

My friend Sahnah came to visit Bruno and I in Morocco. It had been a few years since someone pitched a tent beside Totoyaya. It was so good to get to introduce her to our lifestyle!

Bruno and I didn

Bruno and I didn’t do nearly as much overland traveling this year as we normally do. This was our first night back on the road after a long hiatus, and we lucked out to find a quiet bush camp in a northern New Brunswick forest.

Though our 2016 New Year’s party couldn’t have foretold this, 2016 has, importantly, been the year of searching for a new home-on-wheels.  Things started when we put our Totoyaya up for sale in the spring, and then Bruno spent a challenging month in France studying to pass his truck driver’s license so that we could buy something larger than our current Toyota Land Cruiser.  Our search for the new vehicle began in earnest this fall in Canada and has continued, without success, here in the Southwest USA.  I hope that 2017 will bring us great luck in quickly finding our new vehicle so that we can convert it into a home-on-wheels and hit the road!  2016 has been fun, but both Bruno and I are eager to re-embark on our normal life.

Even though our year hasn’t involved as much travel as usual, it has still been a year rich of experiences.  I’d like to leave you with some of Wandering Footsteps’ 2016 highlights, challenges, and biggest lessons learned.

The first time the entire family comes together.  Very exciting.

The first time the entire family comes together. Very exciting.

Getting a thorough education in Moroccan cuisine from my newfound Moroccan friends.  The food is amazing, the friendship even better.

Getting a thorough education in Moroccan cuisine from my newfound Moroccan friends. The food is amazing, the friendship even better.

Highlights of the Year

1. Camper vanning through Morocco with my parents. It was obviously a pretty big moment for them, too, as they have now bought their own RV and hit the road tomorrow!
2. Learning about Moroccan food from local friends, and getting to experience Moroccan hospitality firsthand.
3. Visiting New York City like a rock star, thanks to the generosity of my aunt Louise.
4. Shipping Totoyaya to Halifax and starting our North American overland adventure!
5. Spending an amazing summer with my family in New Brunswick, Canada – especially the two weeks where both Bruno and my brother were there.  It was one full, happy house!
7. Spending Thanksgiving in Toronto with family and friends, and getting to have my whole family (parents, Bruno, brother, sister-in-law, and dogs) all together for the first time.
Bruno got his U.S. visa!

Bruno got his U.S. visa!

This was the view from our Manhattan apartment when we visited my aunt Louise in New York City.  Priceless!

This was the view from our Manhattan apartment when we visited my aunt Louise in New York City. Good thing we’re not afraid of heights!

Biggest Lesson Learned: To be grateful for the amazing life I have, even when I’m experiencing its inevitable challenges, and to live with awareness of my privileged position in the world.  (If I win third place in a travel writing competition writing about this lesson learned, then it’s an added bonus, right?)
Biggest Challenge: The seemingly unending process of searching for a new camper van.  I’m not the most patient person, and I’ve got too much of a go-getter personality to live comfortably in this seemingly-eternal limbo, so this has been a tough process for me.  I’m guessing this may turn into the biggest life lesson learned for 2017?
I’m writing this post from a Walmart parking lot.  We spent a rainy and quiet night at a state park beach campground last night, but opted to balance the expense of it with a free night at a parking lot.  Last night, we had a quiet meal, a quiet evening, and were both sleeping before midnight.

If the past two New Year’s moments set the tone for the year, then I wonder what tone we have just set for 2017?  Whatever it is, I’ve learned this past year (well, ok, I’m still learning) to accept it with gratitude.

May 2017 bring you all many things for which you can be grateful – moments of pleasure and of stillness, opportunities for learning, and connection with others. What do you hope 2017 will bring your way?

Road-tripping down Route 66 was a fun way to make our way south for the winter.

Road-tripping down Route 66 was a fun way to make our way south for the winter.

Hiking through saguaro cacti at a National Park in the southwest of the US.

Hiking through saguaro cacti at a National Park in the southwest of the US.

  • Freya Gnerre - Dear Brittany and Bruno,
    I loved your recent “blog”, and am still waiting for your reply from my email so I can get your feed back. Good luck on finding your new “home” on wheels. I know you will find it! Happy, healthy New Year. Love, Auntie FreyaReplyCancel

    • Brittany - Thank you, Freya, for your kind wishes and words! I am so behind on my emails — we are living and breathing this new camper van project. Apologies! But I do plan to reply as soon as possible! :) Until then, Happy New Year to you, too!ReplyCancel

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