This day last year was a big one for us.

Finishing the ride in Auburn this fall.

Finishing the ride in Auburn–9/28/2013.

We woke up in Kiesel Park in Auburn, just miles away from the triumphant finish of our two-year cycling journey. We were met by family and friends, some of whom rode in with us from Kiesel, others who met us at the ending point of Town Creek Park. It was a beautiful fall day on the Plains, and for us it was a day of reunions and celebration.

People who made the trip just to "finish the ride" with us last year--Stuart and Anna (friends) and Bob (Dave's brother).

People who made the trip just to “finish the ride” with us last year–Stuart and Anna (friends) and Bob (Dave’s brother).

Joyous reunion!

Joyous reunion!

No shortage of hugs at this event.

No shortage of hugs at this event.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year. As we’ve approached this special anniversary, our conversations in the past few days have turned more and more to the Tour. In many ways, it feels like it was just yesterday. Looking at one or two pictures and sharing those with someone can take us back to life on the road in an instant. Just the other day I was trying to briefly explain our history from the past few years–how we used to live in Auburn, then we traveled for a while, then we lived in Nashville, etc. I started to say, “We just got back from traveling for two years,” but I caught myself, as I realized we didn’t JUST get back–it’s been a whole year!

But in more ways than one, it feels distant. We’re getting quite settled as we make our new life here in Montgomery. And not settled in a bad way–but in a pleasant way, after having nearly three years of living without a place to call our own. We’re enjoying the perks of “normal” life–like a comfy bed to sleep in, amazing kitchen utensils to use every day, friends to share meals with, a daily hot shower… and regular income! But these benefits are part of what makes the Tour feel like it was a long time ago.

As we look back, we don’t do it with sadness that it’s over. Instead, we want to embrace that that season is past, and we’re in a different one. We simply want to celebrate that we did it–that yes, it really happened. We lived it, and can continue to enjoy it for the rest of our lives!

In that spirit, we spent some time this afternoon just reading over old blog posts and looking at pictures from the road. It was actually a blast. We had talked about trying to do something big and exciting to celebrate this special anniversary, but just reliving parts of the Tour and laughing through some of the stories and memories was probably the best way we could celebrate. We reminisced on navigating the moto traffic of Vietnam  and the adventures of cycling in Northern Peru.  We laughed as we reviewed our own Cycle Touring Dictionary and as we remembered the nights we barely slept in Utah. No, it wasn’t a big party or commemoration, but it was joyous. And that, more than anything, is how we feel about the trip. We are filled with joy and gratitude that we chose to do it, that we were able to do it, and that we made it back home safely.

One of the pictures we laughed about this afternoon--all the motorcycles in Vietnam!

One of the pictures we laughed about this afternoon–all the motorcycles in Vietnam!

Oh yeah, and this one. Because this was awesome!

Oh yeah, and this one. Because this was awesome!

Lots has happened over the past year. And really, as a means of celebrating God’s faithfulness, we wanted to give a quick recap here. There were times when this year felt slow–like when we were living in Nashville and it felt like there was no progress on the job front. But now, it seems like the year flew by! We finished the ride on September 28, and after that spent several weeks visiting and catching up with family and friends. We moved to Nashville where Dave’s parents opened their home to us–they had already been storing all of our stuff for more than two years! We spent the next month reestablishing our life, trying to set up everything that we had shut down as a part of the leaving process. We barely got started on the job search before the holidays rolled around and we were on the road visiting family again. When January came, we knew it was time for something to happen–and we began talking about the possibility of coming back to Alabama. By early spring, we began to feel like we had given Nashville a fair chance, so we began more seriously considering a potential job for Dave at his old company. We set a deadline of when we would initiate that conversation if nothing happened in Nashville, and once we had made that decision, we found ourselves surprised at how excited we were about the option of coming back here. Not long after that, we found out we were pregnant! While the timing wasn’t necessarily perfect, we were glad we had already decided we were ready to come back to Alabama, and we didn’t feel pressured into taking a job by the news of a coming baby. From there, things seemed to happen quickly–we moved in June and Dave started work right away. Then, surprise of all surprises, I actually got offered a job right after we moved to town! (No small thing when you’re pregnant!) I was able join the staff at the local pregnancy resource center as the development director, helping to raise money for this non-profit. It’s similar to the work I did when we lived in Auburn–it’s really been a great fit for this season. This job for me was just one more confirmation to us that we are exactly where we need to be for this season! The past few months have flown by with both of us working and setting up our new home and preparing for the arrival of our first baby–just two and a half months until that adventure begins!

We’re so grateful for the past year… it was not at all the transition we expected when we first came home. But everything that happened has played a role in helping us to embrace where God has us. We are so grateful for the entire experience, really! No, it wasn’t always easy, but it was part of the cost of the journey. And most of all, we’re thankful that we can look back without regret and say yes, we did it, and yes, it was worth it.

A sense of finality at the end of the Tour--loading all our gear up in the trunk of the car.

A sense of finality at the end of the Tour–loading all our gear up in the trunk of the car.