Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

Sydney Harbour - Australia

Sydney Harbour – Australia – Sep ’10

Some of you will be reading this before or during Christmas, and a few others might not receive our Christmas cards before the New Year!  We hope this letter sees you well.  2011 has been a good year for us and now we are embarking on a new journey in our life.  We have just celebrated our second anniversary, and things are going great.

As we write this, we are hiding away with some friends we rarely see, in rural Alexis Creek, BC, a nine hour drive from Vancouver.  We were hoping to see more snow on the ground, but even a little snow makes it feel festive!  Today is December 5, and we have just celebrated the Dutch holiday Sinterklaas with some spekulaas cookies and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

SkyTower - Auckland

SkyTower – Auckland, NZ – Oct ’10

A year ago, we were still brimming over with enthusiasm after our trip to Australia and New Zealand, where got a chance to visit with family and friends.  We celebrated our first anniversary while in New Zealand and also had the chance to walk around the top of the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere.

The trip Down Under was our first big trip as a couple and it brought further discussions of other travels to all corners of the earth. After Christmas, we settled ourselves down to work and life in Vancouver for another few months.

The year started on a good note, with Charlotte running a 5km Resolution Run on January 1st, with Earl and Charlotte’s sister, Eleanore, volunteering at the event.

Charlotte spent the rest of the winter and spring training, and ran her first half marathon in Vancouver at the beginning of May.

Resolution Run - Jan 1 - Burnaby

5km Resolution Run – Jan 1

Vancouver Marathon - Charlotte

Vancouver 1/2 Marathon in May

Vancouver Marathon - Group Shot

Running Mates – Liz, Kajaul, Jay & Beatrix

As usual for us, we packed up all our belongings again at the beginning of May and placed them in storage.  The day after Charlotte’s half marathon, we drove out to Alberta, where we would spend the summer. We then flew to Nashville, where our company is based, to attend training school.  Before the training started, we were able to watch an NHL Playoff hockey game as our Vancouver Canucks were playing in Nashville that week.

Canucks vs Predators - Nashville

NHL Playoffs in Nashville – Canucks vs Predators

We had decided in advance that 2011 would be our last year with Southwestern.  We have enjoyed the people we worked with over the years, and have had great success, but felt it was time to explore the world a little more, before expanding our own family.  We talked of traveling around the world, visiting family and friends and places unknown.  To help with this, Earl also sold books this summer, after taking a break from the sales part of the job for the previous two years.  We made a decision to finish our Southwestern career on a high note: in fact, both of us had our second best summers in sales ever, which was a great way to finish things up.

In September, after finishing our sales in Alberta, we embarked on a 6 week road trip around North America, driving 13,500km through 18 states and 6 provinces.  We had the opportunity to see some great American landmarks like the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon in Arizona and saw Canadian ones like the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, which makes coins for 70 countries, including the US & India!

We enjoyed many great sights and good food all across the US and Canada and of course our brief stop in the town of Christmas, Michigan for the photos on the cards we mailed out.  Along the way, we met up with friends and family, some we hadn’t seen since our wedding and other friends Earl had not seen in over 10 years.  We were able to travel for 5 weeks after leaving LA, having only to stay in a hotel for 4 nights, thanks to the kindness of some of our friends and family and a cool travel service at

Grand Canyon - Arizona

Grand Canyon – Arizona

Parliament Building - Ottawa

Parliament Building – Ottawa

Charlotte Holding the Big Nickel in Sudbury

Charlotte Holding the Big Nickel – Sudbury

Santa's Workshop in Christmas, Michigan

Santa’s Workshop – Christmas, Michigan

After driving across Canada, we returned to Vancouver at the end of October for a few days and then had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks in Powell River with Charlotte’s parents, a week in Mexico, and now 10 days here in Alexis Creek. It has been an active, yet relaxing, fall.

We are very thankful to all the friends and family who welcomed us into their home this fall.

Now we joke that we are officially unemployed (having left our jobs with Southwestern), homeless (as everything we own has been in storage since May), and destitute (ok, maybe destitute is a bit of a stretch). 🙂

We are excited to announce the next journey in our life, which was confirmed at the beginning of December.  Starting January 18, we will be taking 8 months to travel the world!  We are going to spend 3.5 weeks in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand before heading to Sri Lanka for a week.  From Sri Lanka we head to India for 6 weeks; 2-3 weeks in Mumbai with Earl’s family and the remaining time traveling north as we fly out from Delhi to Dubai.  After a quick stop-over in Dubai we travel through Africa, stopping in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Egypt.  From Egypt we fly to Turkey for a few weeks and then travel overland through Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Austria and/or Northern Italy) for 2 months.  In mid-July, we will fly to the UK, for about 3-4 weeks, in time for the Olympics.  After the Games, in mid-August, we will head over to Holland, to spend about a month with Charlotte’s family.  We’ll finish with a few days in Iceland (does anyone know anyone there who’d want to host us for a few days?) 😉 and from Iceland to Toronto for a few weeks with Earl’s parents to celebrate our 3rd anniversary and Thanksgiving.

If you live in any of those places we will be visiting, or know someone who does, we’d love to pop in for a visit, and if you have a spare bed for a few nights, we’d love to take advantage of that too!

If you live in none of those places, but just want to keep up on our adventures, please follow us on our travel blog where we’ll have the full itinerary, updates and travel tips!

Until then, we’ll be with Charlotte’s family for Christmas and New Year’s and everyone is excited, as all 5 siblings, 2 in-laws and a girlfriend, will be together for the first time in three years.  May God bless you and your family with a wonderful new year, as you remember the Reason for the Season.

Wishing you a prosperous 2012,

Earl & Charlotte signatures

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