Tidings of Christmas Joy

Friends, family and internet strangers —  
2018 was a BIG. FREAKING. YEAR. Looking back, we pretty much did every big thing we could have this year. New job? Check. New school? Check. Moved? Check. Domestic travel? International travel? Got married? Check. Check. Check.
Despite being so busy that at one point we had a date three weeks out circled on our calendars because it was the next time we could sleep in, it was an exceptionally good year.
Mikaela: One of my biggest new year’s resolutions for 2018 was to find a job I truly loved. I had spent 2017 honing in on what I loved to do and I set an intention in 2018 to buckle down and find something that made me look forward to getting up and turning my computer on every morning.
I’m so happy to say that I have absolutely found that. In April I started at National Park Trips Media as a Sales and Client Services Coordinator. We publish magazines and digital resources to help consumers plan national park vacations as well as provide advertising opportunities for businesses and towns near the parks. Since April I have branched into doing a little bit of everything on our five person team.
My favorite parts of my job are planning and running our photography workshops in national parks (which brought me to Utah, Yosemite and Saguaro this year in addition to Colorado parks) and writing. I had my first print story run in our Yosemite magazine this year and it felt so good to see my name in print!

November photography workshop in Saguaro

Our parent company owns Ski, Backpacker and Climbing magazines along with Warren Miller Films so getting to spend my days in our Boulder office surrounded by passionate outdoor enthusiasts has been so fun.
In addition to my day job, I also kept myself busy freelance blogging for Copper Mountain and Keep it Wild this year.
Topher: This year I had the pleasure of dislocating my knee cap skiing. We were skiing up in Copper, Mikaela Vince and I, in one of the back bowls when I went to drop in off a ridge that I had successfully dropped before. However, if you know anything about my ability to ski that ability is a little slapdash. I’m not great in powder and I’m a little floppy. Well, right after the drop the powder came up to my knees, I got my feet tangled up and crossed my skis. On near vertical terrain. They didn’t release and I was in excruciating pain. Ski patrol had to evacuate me, and here almost a year later, it still gives me grief and Dr.’s don’t want to do anything about it for the time being so that was fun.

Double diamond rescue in Copper Bowl

Topher: I got into CU Boulders College of letters arts and sciences studying math this year. We moved up north closer to Boulder both for Mikaela’s new job and for school. Colorado’s rent prices are slowly but surely pricing us out of the market. So that fun. But I like our new place it it about twenty five minutes from Boulder and only about half and hour from downtown Denver.
Mikaela: In third grade, I met the sweetest, rad-est, red-headed human and she has been one of my dearest friends ever since. Serena and I were inseparable through our years at community college. Life took us down very different paths, but those paths have continually crossed. We graduated college on the same day and this summer our paths once again crossed. She and her fiance (also named Christopher!) got married in August just a month before we did. Topher and I flew out to Richmond, Virginia where we ate all the southern food in between wedding activities. Standing next to her as she professed her love to her new husband was such a sweet experience. I think one of the best parts of being twenty-something is watching your friends find their happily ever after.

Mikaela&TopherWedding-392.jpg
Best friends since 3rd grade and Summer 2018 Brides

Topher: As if this year wasn’t already jammed full of enough going on what with a move and a wedding and an international honeymoon we also had a weekend bachelor/bachelorette in New Orleans with some of our closest friends. It was a whirlwind weekend full of seafood, late night beignets, and plenty, I mean plenty, of alcohol. It was a trip for the ages and a blast to make new memories with our closest friends. Plus, who doesn’t like creole cuisine.

Mikaela: Planning a wedding is very hard work. From January up until the night before the big day, I feel like every spare minute was spent planning. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed it, although at times it felt like I had two full-time jobs. To save money, we DIY-ed or did most things ourselves, with significant help from our awesome friends.
Our wedding day was the very best day of my life so far. Getting to finally marry my best friend, surrounded by our closest family and friends was everything I could have ever hoped for.
I’ve been sure of Topher’s love for me since we were teens, but what became obvious over this summer was how truly loved we are by our crew. Through pain-staking DIY “parties” (don’t ask how many paper cranes I made them fold), dress fittings, mental breakdowns in Michael’s, tasting dozens of beers, wines and margaritas, a debaucherous weekend in New Orleans and heart-felt speeches all of our friends showed us how much they truly loved us. We’ve got a beautiful group of friends and an amazing blended family I am so grateful for.

Topher: Arguably the biggest thing we did this year and what will undoubtedly be the defining event of 2018 in review for us: Mikaela and I finally tied the knot this fall. I’d say planning a wedding wasn’t as hard as everyone makes it out to be, except it was. All the things that you never even think to think about that need to be addressed in some manner or another. But at the end everything worked out amazing and I got to be surrounded by friends and family celebrating my marriage to my best friend and the love of my life. All the lead up to deciding what kind of straws to pick to spending hours upon hours curating the perfect playlist all worked out. From the light shower of rain to the beautiful fall evening, perfect for tacos, the whole day was storybook. One that I would relive over and over if that was something I had in my power.

Topher: This year we also had one the greatest trips I’ve ever been on, we went to Japan for 2 weeks on our honeymoon. I could write a book about our time in Japan. It was without a doubt the coolest trip I’ve even taken. And some part of me felt so amazingly at home there. Since our return I’ve honestly been kinda depressed that we aren’t still there. We spend time in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and a few days in the countryside hiking through the mountains and staying in tiny guest houses on tatami mat floors. Since even before we decided to go to Japan for our honeymoon, the idea of teaching English abroad in Japan and living there for a year or two always interested me and after visiting it has renewed in me a desire to live there. Not forever but definitely for some time. Japan definitively left and impression on me, one I hope never fades.

Yunomine Hot Springs Town
Kyoto

Mikaela: I have to admit, I was a little nervous to go to Japan. International travel is something that’s always been so important to me. Topher had never been abroad before and part of me was worried he’d hate it. We had our moments (like not buying the right train tickets and forgetting allergy medicine and a hotel incident I’m still not sure I fully understand) but it was the most amazing trip and it fueled both of our passions for travel.
We ate udon in a tiny ten-seat shop where we watched the chef make our noodles from scratch. We got seriously lost in a whole city that exists under Tokyo. We ate octopus and eel off sticks and pond smelt, whatever that was. We set up tripods and laughed as we took shot after shot in the dark. We took traditional Japanese baths with strangers in a tiny hot springs village we took a two hour bus to. We drank beer out of vending machines. We hiked a pilgrimage in the pouring rain. Topher saved our butts more than once with his limited knowledge of the Japanese language. We said “sumimasen” and “arrigato-gozaimas” over and over again and my purse was always stuffed with Kit-Kats. We were warmly welcomed by locals in every city and town. We ate grocery store sushi for Thanksgiving that rivaled anything I’ve ever eaten in the US. We fell in love and it was beautiful. We tried to make tempura at home last week and I splashed boiling oil on Topher and it was squidgy and terrible and I realized that just like when I returned home from Italy or Costa Rica in college, I will always be a little homesick because a part if my heart will always be tucked in the streets of Japan.

Koguchi, an itty bitty village in the hills through which the Kumano Kodo trek runs
Kyoto at night

Kenzie dog continues to blow us away with her spirit and energy. She will be 13 next month but still acts like a pup, hikes miles with us and is full of joy.
She loves: Nuzzling down in her favorite beds, playing in the snow, splashing in questionable water, Shakira, getting puppuccinos at Starbucks and new bandanas.
She hates: When her parents sleep in on the weekends, social events where she has to behave *cough* weddings *cough*, getting baths, antioxidants and free-market economies


As we reflect on 2018, we feel so much gratitude. Life is not easy, but life is very good. We’re looking forward to slowing things down in 2019: spending more time outside, exploring some new places and of course, scheming and dreaming for what’s next.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

*All wedding photos by Coldiron Photography

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Author: mikaelayanagihara

I'm Mikaela and I'm an Outside Millennial.

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