Hi friends! It has been a while, unusually -- but for good reason! The holiday season snuck upon me with a number of surprises, and for my wellness and sanity I took a hard STOP. So here's what went down between the holidays and February, just to get you caught up.
- Alex and I were on a roll with housesitting: It was actually really amazing how quickly we became hot on the market. I mean, look at us! On a serious note, we really were great on paper: perfect 5-star ratings singing high praises, a traveling couple with a vehicle (so it reassures the homeowner that there is always someone there to watch pets), and we worked from home. It was a blessing to meet all these new people and care for their furry families. And when we didn't have a housesit, we camped in National Parks or stayed with Alex's West Coast family.
- We celebrated the holidays on the West Coast: Can I just give a shout out to Alex's uncle and aunt, Jack and Janet, who were so cute and sweet and cooked a Puerto Rican (ish) Thanksgiving dinner after I posted a Facebook status about the joy of pernil (roast pork). Jack is an engineer and approached it in a hilariously scientific way -- which I can't really critique because I know nothing about measurements and totally go the "it's ready when your heart feels it's ready" route when cooking. He did a good job.
- We spent a month in Taiwan: During our time in freezing Tahoe, I found cheap RT tickets to Taiwan and booked the month of January to explore a new place. Taiwan was amazing! I didn't know what to expect; I'd only ever done Southeast Asian travel before, all of which were popular backpacker routes. But in Taiwan we hardly saw any Westerners (or Aussies / Kiwis). We circled the small island for a month, staying in four cities and visiting National Parks, historical sites, and eating lots and lots of dumplings and bubble tea.
- I got more press features for O. Christine: I was featured on Lonely Planet's best Instagram posts, PopSugar's top Latinx bloggers to follow, Reader's Digest travel expert interview, and NASDAQ for business travel tips -- yes, I sure did! Winter is often slow for business, so this was the confidence boost I needed.
Herbal tea for a chilly night! We are eating our way trough #Taipei apparently, with visits to #dintaifung for XiaoLongBao, $3 grilled squid in the night market, fried fish batter on a stick (tastes a lot like bacalaitos for my Puerto Ricans out there), and more! You can find this market by the Longshan Temple MRT station exit 1. . What is your favorite food from a country you’ve traveled to? (Swipe for more pics from my #sonya5100)
- Winter was upon us: There's not much more to say about that. Hell doth frozeth over.
- My good friend's mom passed away: I cannot even begin to describe how much this broke my heart. Not only can I not imagine losing my own mother (that mini-stroke incident was bad enough), the scariest part was that her mom was so strong and healthy. We truly don't know when it is our time. It is the reason why I am so passionate about living my best life right now.
- We spent most of December in Lake Tahoe: This would be an "up" for most people but for someone who hates the winter, I somehow keep ending up in THE FREAKING COLD. I found a great hotel deal in South Lake Tahoe, walking distance from the lift to Heavenly, so I blessed Alex with the gift of hiding in my hotel room / hot tub while he snowboarded for a week. I loved the special time there; just disliked the temperature.
We returned to the US and headed back east: We got back to the United States this month. Alex and I separated as he planned another trip to snowboard (he was trying to make the most of his EpicPass) while I stayed in Concord, CA in a tiny cottage, followed by another housesit, solo. We then drove to see my sister who lives in the greater LA area, and made our way east via Death Valley (as opposed to going the southern route). We barely survived pitching a tent during sandstorm winds in Death Valley and ended up sleeping in the car, using hair scarfs and sweaters as window curtains. Always an adventure.
- Alex and I got engaged! On Christmas day we drove back to Tahoe (again, why are we deliberately seeking out cold?) for a family reunion with Alex's mom's side of the family. Luckily, it wasn't as freezing this second time around -- and I absolutely love hanging out with them. We stayed in Truckee, CA (more northern west Tahoe) which offered easy access to both Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake.
The engagement: The proposal was lovely but hilarious -- it was the last night of our trip, and most of us in the house chose to head out to Donner Lake for photos at a popular vista point. As we took turns taking photos at the top of the rock, Alex told me to close my eyes. Of course I thought he was surprising me with sour patch kids because we made a deal that I'd cut back. But 10 seconds later I realized what he was doing, and well... here we are. I could barely hear what he was saying amid all the yells but I am pretty sure he asked me to marry him.
Happy new year to all! A few days ago my travel and life partner got on one knee, presented a beautiful ring (likely worth a few flights 😂✈️), and asked me to spend my life with him, officially ⚖️). The sun gleamed over us with the serene backdrop of Donner Lake, and among cheers and yells I said, “yes”. . It’s only been 50 years since interracial marriages were a possibility for *everyone* in the US. I don’t take that for granted. . Here’s to forever, @dettmusic. I look forward to the rest of our wild thornberry lives.
In March, we plan to celebrate birthdays with family and start the wedding venue hunt (3 months later)!
Phew. That was a lot. Can't wait to hear what you've been up to. Keep an eye out for the newsletter.