Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year!
Is it still only 2017? I was hoping it would be at least 2019, maybe 2020 by now. Sometimes, the months seem to drag on as the world around us seems to get crazier. Thankfully, we have each other, and we have a pretty good life here in Houston. It's been a moderately eventful year, with lots of photography opportunities and travel for Andrea and lots of seismic imaging work for Joe. Joe actually managed to travel a fair amount, too, compared to previous years. We had a year full of visits with our close family and friends, which is really important to us, as well as plenty of time at home with the cat and our hobbies and interests.
Read on below for more about our year!
Joe has continued working at CGG doing seismic imaging. During the year, CGG officially declared bankruptcy and has had a couple rounds of layoffs, but the company stayed afloat, and so did Joe! He's doing really well, having been recognized for his work.
In January, on the weekend that the inauguration was happening and women were marching on Washington, we left Houston for the wine country of Texas. Joe's sister, Katie, had just gotten engaged to her partner, Daniel, and they asked Andrea to come and take the photos. It went so well that a photography business was born from that weekend. Since then, there have been baby, animal, family, and wedding photoshoots, and even a surprise engagement photoshoot. Here's a look at some of the photography work Andrea did this year. The weirdest moment in being a freelance photographer was when a groom got cold feet at a small wedding. The best moment was photographing Katie and Daniel's wedding, where we got to see a lot of family in addition to taking pictures! Photos from throughout the year can be seen on my blog on this website's menu.
Looking ahead, one of Houston's congressional districts is being targeted by the DCCC as one that could be turned Democratic, and Andrea has been approached to be a field organizer for the primary campaign of Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, an EMILY's List candidate.
We rang the new year in at a hotel in Port Angeles, Washington, after taking ferries around the Puget Sound, so we started the year off pretty well. The big story of January was Katie's engagement photoshoot! Andrea spent a lot of time fretting about politics, while Joe managed to disentangle his feelings from it.
This was a slow month. Joe and Andrea were both training for the Salt Lake City Marathon/Half Marathon, so weekends were mostly dedicated to long runs. Andrea took it upon herself to learn how to make .gifs in her spare time, expanding her Photoshop know-how. For those unaware, this is a .gif:
Andrea turned 31 and booked her first photoshoot for her business. Investor Joe recognized the need for a more professional photography kit, so a Canon EOS 70D was purchased. It takes much nicer photos! Also, Joe joined a team called the Roaming Gnomes to compete in the Texas Independence Relay. He's done this before, but only as part of his company's team. This year's team includes some coworkers, as well as some new friends! Joe ran 23 miles all in one go; usually, it's split up into several smaller legs, but he wanted to run several so that he could keep training for his marathon. This gave his teammates time to sleep... but he was exhausted! Also, wildflower season in Texas at the end of March/early April made for some amazing photos!
In April, we finally flew out to Salt Lake City to see our friends and family there, as well as run the Salt Lake City Marathon events. We stayed with our friends, the Scoggins, and their two little girls. We've always like Greg and Kara, but now we're pretty fond of Lizzy and Hannah, too! To be perfectly honest, we want children of our own, but they are slow in coming. So it has been a delight to be around others' small children and watch them grow. We also look forward to hiking whenever we get out of Texas, wherever there are mountains involved. So of course, we did a lot of that in Utah, too.
May was another slower month; however, now that we were finally done training for our races, we had time to go out and do new things on the weekends! We had a small adventure when we headed out to Brazos Bend State Park and saw more alligators than we knew existed there. We also took part in Houston's Japan Festival and Andrea learned the joy of a pet photoshoot! And, over Memorial Day weekend, we had a giant thunderstorm; little did we know, this would not be the biggest storm of the year...
Andrea spent most of June thinking about photography and travel plans, as both loomed in the near future. So, she attempted to do a photo-a-day for a month, which she failed to follow through with by June 9th. That's alright, though, because travel and family plans really did take over from there. Andrea's sister, Katie, and brother-in-law Nate, came to visit, alongside their new (at the time) doggo, named Orson. We also attended some women's professional soccer matches in downtown Houston.Probably the biggest June story is that Andrea's best friend's boyfriend flew her to Baltimore, where they live, to be present when he proposed to her. This was a total surprise, and a whirlwind of a trip! You can read about it on the blog.
The big trip of the year for Andrea was a roadtrip with best friends Mandy and Kathy up through the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada. 10 days on the road took them through Canadian Niagara, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Prince Edward Island, St. John, Acadia National Park, Burlington (Vermont), Providence (Rhode Island), and then back down to Baltimore. Andrea was utterly exhausted when it was all over! Maybe at 31 years old 10 days is too long to spend in a vehicle that size with two other women. More of that is on the blog. I also made a video; watching all of it is, of course, completely optional!
In mid-August, we flew to Denver, where we met Joe's parents for an opportunity to view the solar eclipse at about 96% totality. We would have liked to go to Wyoming, but there was no vacancy anywhere there! So we stayed in Estes Park and hiked for two days at Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw elk right next to the trail, got caught on a mountainside cliff during a storm (thunder! lightning! hail! oh my!), and then viewed the eclipse from a park in town. Well, when I say "viewed"... of course, clouds rolled in with fifteen minutes to go. So we missed it... but it did get pretty dark out!
August (Hurricane Harvey)
So, Hurricane Harvey probably deserves its own section. We tried to keep everyone as updated as possible during the storm and the flood aftermath, but a summary would probably be a good thing for everyone. Our area in Houston was spared the worst of the thunderstorms and tornadoes, so during the hurricane itself, we were lucky to hunker down with our pantry and some games. We were never without electricity, but we did not have enough wine! Everything closed down around us for three days, and on the fourth, we went out walking around. Upstream of the bayou we live above, the dams were starting to be let loose and flooding began. So, while the storm ended on Tuesday (and all of Houston took photos of an amazing sunset), on Wednesday morning, the floods came to us. We were told to evacuate. This was very frustrating, and I was upset to be away from home. After three or four days living as evacuees on the west side of Houston with our friends (and some adventures and concerns regarding our home and cat), we were able to return. Now we hope to buy ourselves a canoe.
Our neighborhood is still recovering, three months later. It took a week for flooding to go down around the city, and near us, it had to be pumped out via truck. While most of the city is back to normal (including us, safe on the third story of our apartment building), many people are rebuilding. For a time, there was a stench around Houston that could only be described as the smell of hot, dry, fecal matter. Andrea has compiled a set of videos that we took during that time, if you'd like to give it a look. (Forgive me, I am not a videographer.)
The biggest thing during the month of September was Joe's sister Katie's wedding! Andrea was hired to photograph it, and she got Joe to assist with her extra camera. It was a fantastic thing to be able to see all the Peterson kids in one place, along with the opportunity to meet our first nephew for the first time, since he was born in Germany last year! We had such a blast dancing and photographing all evening. You can read more about that on the blog. Also, Andrea's parents came to visit Houston, which felt weird right after the hurricane! We still managed to see and do a lot in a weekend, though.
In October, we took part in Houston life more than ever. That may be because the weather gets slightly more bearable, and therefore the city is willing to host more events, but maybe we were just more excited to get out after the hurricane and be Houstonians. Our good friend from way back, Courtney, moved to nearby College Station, so we went to a local Oktoberfest with her. At work, Joe received some free tickets to see the Houston Texans host the Kansas City Chiefs play a football game one Sunday, which was a thrill to attend because it was our first time in club seats. We may not ever be able to go back to the cheap seats! We also got to see comedian John Mulaney, who is the best comedian we've seen live, and then just a few days later, we saw rapper Macklemore and his crew of Seattle musicians. That was a really fun show! And finally, most of the month, we were obsessing over baseball along with the rest of Houston. The Astros won the American League Championship Series and then the World Series! We even went to Minute Maid Park, where the Astros play, to watch Game 6 on a jumobo-tron over the field (they were playing in Los Angeles, home of their opponent, the Dodgers).
One more big bit of news in October is that we finally paid off every last debt we owed on college, grad school, and even our vehicle (ahead of time, by a year). We finally feel like we can move on with our lives from being hyper-frugal. While our friends have bought houses and started families, we dedicated ourselves to getting rid of our debt, so we've been living in a one-bedroom apartment and holding off on a lot of things we've wanted to do. Now we can look forward to doing bigger things... but until then, we will just travel more often!
Joe finally came of Hobbit-age, turning 33, so we had an appropriately styled meal. Finally, an adult! Our November was pretty simple, until the week of Thanksgiving. We visited our family friends in Utah again for a few days, and then drove to Moab with Katie and Daniel, where we met up with Joe's parents for the holiday and hiking around Arches National Park and Dead Horse State Park. All of this outdoor time is what we really crave when we're in Houston, and Utah has that in droves.
When we paid off our debt, we started looking at chances to get out of Houston more often. So, we happened upon some inexpensive tickets to go to Seattle for a weekend. We really only had a full day in the city, sandwiched between two days of travel and airports, but it was worth it. We absolutely love that city. When we came back, we kept busy; on a recent Saturday, we went to the zoo, saw a movie, went to a comedy show (a Netflix special taping for Tig Notaro!), and a holiday party. If there's anything we know how to do at this point, it's how to make the most of a weekend!
Now we'll be off to visit Andrea's family in New Mexico for Christmas. We can't wait to see what the new year holds for us, and for our friends and family, too. Between weddings and babies and graduations, life will continue to be exciting for all of you. Please, let us know how your year has been! And if you're ever thinking of coming to Houston, we're feeling pretty familiar with the place, so come on down and see us! We'll take some pictures.
Love, Andrea and Joe