year in review.

It's been a year! 365 days of awesome. Marrying Tate has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and I still get the heart flutters when he wakes me up with kisses in the morning. This first year has been a blast; we've been to four states, three different countries, two national parks, and one huge crazy adventure.

So. I thought I'd do a recap of what our first year together has looked like:
In April we got married (!!) and went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for our honeymoon. Ah, that vacation was so fun. 
In May we bought a Poler tent and camped at Bear Lake, UT. It was cold and stormy and rainy but we managed to have a really great time!
By June we had that camping thing down and went again to a random forest in the canyon. Keeping the vibes real! 
In July Tate graduated college! We also celebrated his birthday, and went to Wallace ID for the fourth of july.
In August we went to Moab, Utah for family vacation and visited Arches National Park and Canyonlands. When we got home, I convinced Tate to get us a cat. Our cat Mesa added so much love to our place! 
In September Tate and I finished our coffee table (with the help of my dad) and did an apartment tour. We loved our little place in Idaho!
In October we took the weekend off and went to Yellowstone National Park once last time before we moved. We were about the only ones there and it was totally awesome.
In November we found out we were accepted to teach English in China for six months. We didn't know where/when/how yet, but were overjoyed with the news! 
In December I graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design! The next day we moved out of our apartment to Las Vegas, and flew to Canada with Tate's family for Christmas. Ice climbing and going to Lake Louise was the highlight of our trip!
In January we flew to Washington for a week to see my side of the family. Spending the weekend at my parents cabin was sooo relaxing.
In February we made the big move to China! We went to the Great Wall in Beijing, moved to Suzhou, and escaped to Shanghai for the weekend to see the markets and the Bund.
March was really, really busy. We hiked two sacred mountains, went to a flower festival, took the train to Shanghai for the weekend, had friends visit our city, and explored Suzhou.

And now it's april! What an awesome year. Needless to say Tate and I both agree that our "honeymoon phase" it's going to last many years to come. Can't wait to see what year two brings! 


weekend in nanjing.

For the weekend we took a short trip to Nanjing, China. We were originally supposed to move to Nanjing to teach, but ended up moving to Suzhou. Before coming to China we had a bucket list of places we wanted to see in Nanjing; and one of them was the Purple Mountain. We planned on spending only a few hours here but ending up being there for 8+ hours. There is so much to see here and all of it is so beautiful! So... a lot of photos in this post ;)
Every park/tomb/museum/mausoleum/garden in China has a fee. We didn't do too much research on what to see on the Purple Mountain so when we went we were just winging it. I was selective about what part of the mountain I wanted to enter because of the prices, but we lucked out. We splurged to see the Ming tomb (the tomb of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty) and it led us to a section of the park that was really beautiful.
We walked around the tomb for a while, but what we really wanted to see was a lake on the mountain. After a few random trails we found the lake. There were quite a few people walking around the lake but there was no one at this bridge. We're experts at the self timer, ha.
We sat at this bridge for about 30 minutes to rest feet and snapped instax photos. I've taken so many in China, I wish I had a scanner! I really wanted to hike to the top of the mountain, but we couldn't find a paved trail (which is how all trails are here). We found a steep steep dirt trail and started hiking up for what felt like forever.
It was a really special moment when we saw the view from the top. The view was amazing and we realized how high we actually hiked. But then we noticed if we climbed even farther up the mountain we could take a ski lift down. We've realized that the only moments we'll regret are the things we don't do... so we started hiking again (this motto might be the death of me!).
We made it to the top again and stumbled across this buddha by total chance. The only thing I really wanted to see on the Purple Mountain was this Buddha, but every time I asked where it was no one knew. I think it was a reward for what we had put ourselves through getting to the top of the mountain.
We also came across a spa overlooking the city where fish eat the dead skin off of your feet. If not now when, right? The feeling of fish sucking on your skin is so weird but I'm glad I've experienced it. It turns out the spa had opened only 2 hours earlier and we were their first customers. Woohoo!
We totally forgot about the time when we were at the "spa" and didn't realize that the ticket office had closed to get our tickets back down. Luckily, they made an exeption and gave us the last tickets. We took the lift down the mountain and watched the sunset as we talked and laughed about how awesome that day was. Our weekend in Nanjing couldn't have been more perfect!


field trip.

Friday was one of those "is this real life?!" moments. We had a field trip with our kindergarden at a tulip festival and there was a three hour 'free time' so Tate and I took off. We hiked random trails up the mountain for a while and then came across this lake...

I've never seen water this color before, no one was at this spot, the weather was perfect, and it was quiet. And when you see a lake this clean in China you have the urge to jump right in it. So that's what we did (or what Tate did). We had no intention of finding this lake or going swimming but that's what happened! And we both realized that this is why we came to China; to experience random moments like this that we'll laugh about later.


spring gardens.

^^I've never seen a tree like this before!^^
Yup, Spring is here in Suzhou! The other day Tate and I decided to take a scooter ride around town. We came across a wetland park and it was gorgeous! Every tree is in bloom and they were all so different from each other. Suzhou is known for their amazing gardens, and now I know why. We've been waiting to see some of them, and this is the week to go! Chinese gardens, here we come...


wild animal preserve.

Tate and I took the train to Shanghai this weekend and went to the wild animal preserve. After a couple of hours of navigating and the scariest bus ride ever, we made it there. The zoos outside of America are so different! 
^^First time seeing a panda!^^
^^I hopped the fence to feed lemurs berries. Everyone else was doing it too... ^^
^^We fed giraffes for 20 yuan (about 3 dollars). That giraffe preferred nibbling my hand over food.^^
We were told that this zoo was "pretty sketchy" so we were all in. We walked around the entire park and saw every animal you can imagine. My favorites were the lemurs, giraffes, and pandas. The second half of the park is an additional fee to ride a converted school bus with mesh wires as windows. We debated going because of the price (but realized how much more expensive it would be in America) so we waited in a long line to get in the tour bus. 

Driving around the park in the tour bus was a completely different experience. The guide would drive through one gate, close it, then open another gate into the "beast area". Think Jurassic Park. We saw white tigers, baby bears, lions, ostriches, etc. The bus stopped frequently and the animals would rush to us for food. We fed them chunks of chicken meat, it was pretty incredible. 

We ate our way through Shanghai for the rest of the weekend and came back with great polaroids and even better memories. We love China ;)


baby baby blue.

^^Tate mocking me...^^
Suzhou offers street bikes that you can "rent" and then drop off at every subway stop. We ride them everyday and they're fantastic. (You can see a picture of me riding a rental bike here). Yesterday we rode our bikes a different route home and discovered the coolest temple, and then it got us thinking. There is so much in our city that we have yet to discover...

We've been toying around with the idea of getting an e-bike (a scooter that is all electric) but never committed; they're really inexpensive but we're only living here for six months so we had hard time trying to justify the purchase. They sell e-bikes at every large market so we went to go take a peek. I saw this baby baby blue one and I died! The price was totally right and five minutes later we cruised out of the store. Needless to say it was the b e s t ride home. Tate feels like he's in the middle of a bike race here... the roads are crazy, haha.

note to self: sporadic decisions are the best decisions.


"leaning tower of suzhou".

This weekend we took advantage of the nice weather and took the metro to Tiger Hill, the burial ground of the founding father of Suzhou (our city). This is Suzhou's main tourist attraction because the pagoda at the top of the hill is actually leaning! It's known as the leaning tower of the East. Several of our American friends came to visit us over the weekend and it was so fun showing them around (I'm realizing we know this city actually pretty well!). I'm also realizing that pictures sometimes don't do justice, the real thing is just so much better. 

note to self: Tate and I laugh to ourselves almost everyday about how different our lifestyle is here from back in America. Life is very carefree, relaxed, and last minute in China. Remember to take advantage of it while we can!