Happy Holidays everyone! We are sitting outside on a warm sunny December day here in Melbourne, trying to get into the Christmas spirit to write our annual holiday letter. We have had warm Christmas days in the past, but being so far from friends and family has kept us from getting into the spirit of the season and sitting down to write this is helping to get us more in the mood.
This has been our most traveled year yet! Not only did we move half way across the world to Australia, we have also visited 5 countries and explored a lot of our new home country. It’s been a great year of exploring new countries, learning about different cultures and meeting new friends.
2017 started in Cuba. We took advantage of a brief reprieve in the US/Cuba travel restrictions to do a bicycle tour of the western side of the island. We really enjoyed the perspective and interaction we had bicycling through the towns, stopping to talk with and learn about locals and their day-to-day lives. Everyone was so friendly and our tour guides were very knowledgeable; we left with a better understanding of the history and current state of the relationship between our two countries.
We came home from Cuba to the news that Todd’s company wanted to relocate us to Australia. It was a little overwhelming considering we had just moved a few months ago to the Dallas area, expecting to be there for a while. But we couldn’t say no to an opportunity to live in another country, so we ran around getting the pets ready and everything packed up and put into storage. Of course we had to do some last minute traveling to some of our favorite US cities. We hit up New York for Kelly’s birthday and then San Diego in March to visit Kelly’s friend Lucia. We also made a point of spending time with family, visiting Todd’s parents out in Jacksonville, TX and having a weekend with Kelly’s niece and nephews.
On March 22nd we put our cat and dog on a plane ahead of us, since they would have to spend 10 days in quarantine. We packed our 2 road bikes and 8 bags of mostly clothes that would be coming with us and left everything else behind as we boarded the plane for Australia on March 28th.
We quickly found a place to live in Port Melbourne that was conveniently located on the tram line, close to the beach and a block away from an off leash dog park. We both ended up working right in the CBD (central business district) within a few blocks of each other. This is a first for us; we are usually heading in opposite directions. It has totally spoiled us being able to commute together and meet for lunch most days.
Part of the reason they sent Todd over here was to serve as the regional compliance officer, working with high-risk areas; essentially any country where bribing and corruption are a regular occurrence. This has led him to travel all over South East Asia and of course Kelly joins him every chance she can. Together we have visited Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong. At one point, Todd spent 5 weeks in Hong Kong and Kelly joined him for 2 weeks – at the end, we were feeling like Hong Kong was our second home. Todd also made trips to the Philippines and mainland China.
Now that we are in a whole new country, we are trying to visit every Australia state. Luckily they only have 7, so we’ve been exploring them every chance we have. So far we have visited Tasmania, Victoria (where we live), New South Wales (Sydney), and Queensland (Brisbane & Cairns), where we finally dove the Great Barrier Reef. Of course, we’ve enjoyed exploring Melbourne and the surrounding area on the weekends and completely agree with the numerous surveys that rank it as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Coming up, we have a trip planned to South Australia (Adelaide) in January for Kelly’s birthday. So then we will only have two states left – Western Australia & Northern Territory!
This year for Christmas and New Years both of our offices close down for two weeks (Australia is super focused on ensuring work/life balance). So we are off to our 29th country, New Zealand. We will be spending 10 days in a campervan (a mini van with a bed in it), exploring the South Island.
Next year we hope to have some more visitors! Todd’s parents are the only ones who have taken us up on it so far and we enjoyed showing them around our new city. We also plan to be back in the States next April/May and hope to see as many of you as we can while we are there! We are missing everyone, but Facebook and Instagram make us feel like we are keeping up with what’s going on at least a little bit.
Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday Season!!!