A Long-Expected Party

· 8 min read ·
Hiking at Castle in the Clouds, Lakes Region, NH
Hiking at Castle in the Clouds, Lakes Region, NH

James: well hello there!

Sheila: Hi James!

James: this is fun. We had to re-remember how to do this.

Sheila: I’m having (happy) flashbacks to when we used to do this all around Europe. Remember that time we wrote a blog using our phones and WiFi somewhere in Paris during a heatwave? For some reason that memory really stuck with me.

James: haha yes! And that time we wrote about our short stay in Munich while on the Flix Bus heading towards Switzerland. We did quite a bit of writing back then! And now it’s suddenly been a year since we last posted.

Sheila: And we should also recognize it’s been just over 4 years since leaving for our big trip! And here we are in New Hampshire… in our in-between phase. Not still in our Denver home, not yet in our home-to-be but in a rental on the seacoast. Honestly, James, if you had told me we would be living here 4 years ago, I would have so many questions! That said… I’m skipping ahead aren’t I? We haven’t shared much on this blog as far as updates, that’s what today is all about!

James: maybe we can back up a little bit and reflect on how much fun we had last August, when we celebrated Sheila’s birthday by throwing a big party for our family and friends. Were we also doing something else then?

Sheila: You mean our wedding celebration?? 😆

James: so many dates to remember 😅 . That’s the one!

Sheila: What a time that was. As we are coming up on our 2 year wedding anniversary (June 10!) I have been feeling reflective. I’m truly so glad we had the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, and that we got to elope and have a special time just for us. The best of both worlds! With the upcoming weddings this year, I feel even more grateful for how special people made us feel at our celebration. If anyone reading this is getting married, you may enjoy the blog I put together: How to Fully Enjoy Your Wedding Day. What were some of your favorite aspects from the day — August 13, 2022?

James: we got to wear our favorite outfits again, this time with matching white Chacos, which was a lot of fun. We got to tell our story in front of our families and friends. We got to see a lot of people after several years of postponements and COVID and unexpected deaths. We got to celebrate our love in front of some of the people we’re closest to. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — it’s going to be hard for me to throw you another birthday party that compares! What about you?

Sheila: I certainly wouldn’t want to top it — nothing will ever be quite like it! I just found two photos that depict two amazing parts of our wedding celebration — Our friends blessing us with their musical talents, and my cousins who stole the show with their noteworthy dresses and breaking it down on the dance floor. It was neat to hear that so many of our loved ones were “riding a high” for weeks after the wedding, and they said that the best part was having a full weekend of fun all together. From the Friday night pizza + wine (from our good friends at Outward Wines!) + bonfire, to Saturday yoga and enjoying all Waterville Valley resort has to offer, to the actual celebration, to Sunday breakfast. And how special now knowing that our future home won’t be far away…

Our friends Abbie & Levi nearly stole the show with their celebration kickoff performance
Our friends Abbie & Levi nearly stole the show with their celebration kickoff performance
Olivia & Eva, on the other hand, actually stole the show
Olivia & Eva, on the other hand, actually stole the show
Our patented move on the dance floor
Our patented move on the dance floor

James: I think we both thought that we’d be out West forever. And there was a lot we loved about Denver — and a lot we miss about Denver, now that we’ve sold our home and moved back to New England. But I think the pandemic was also a fitting crucible in which we were forced to ask a lot of hard questions of ourselves, including what kind of place we wanted to be living in long term. I think, too, that we needed to leave to know we wanted to come back. It wasn’t an easy choice, by any means, and though we’ve been back for 6 weeks now, the sting of moving has only just begun to fade. It was an incredibly arduous task. Hard to believe we left for Colorado with a Subaru filled to the brim and left Colorado with that plus two U-Haul boxes winging their way back here!

Sheila: As cousin Evan likes to say, “you fill the space you have.” It’s a difficult balance trying to stay simple but also building a life and home! Yes, wow, 6 weeks! Feels long and also short. James, why don’t you share some quick bullet-point updates of how we landed here?

James: I’ll give it my best shot!

  • As you said, we’re living close to the NH coast and renting at the moment. Buckwheat’s learning that he can’t bark at every single passing person, even if he’s just barking “hi!!!!” 🐶
  • One of Sheila’s friends introduced us to a list of sustainable and eco-friendly home builders back at the end of 2021, and though we had never imagined it might be possible before, we’re actively in the process now of starting to build our dream home with Unity Homes, one of the companies we found on that list (as well as our awesome general contractor!)
  • We’d been looking for land ever since then and at the start of 2023, we bought land in the White Mountains of New Hampshire!
  • We sold our home in Denver (Sheila will have to give a bit more of that story!) and Sheila tied up some loose ends with her in-person coaching business in Denver, which was really tough because the place she had her office in was so amazing

Sheila: Well done on those updates… so much has happened but really all good things. Yes, I must share about the selling of our home because it was such a small-world moment. Before even saying so, we should share how amazing it was that our agent for buying the land was one of my hometown friends that I Nordic skiied with in high school! It was so cool to reconnect with him in a totally different context and experience his expertise. Shouting him out — Andrew Phinney ! Okay okay that is relevant because I am from a very small town but people from that town have been a crucial part of our move! From one of my best and longest friends, Tessa, touring our rental, to Andrew helping us secure the land, to the actual selling of our home… We sold our house to someone from my hometown!

Just 4 days before we drove away from Denver, a friend of mine (also from the Nordic team, how funny is that?) volunteered to come over and help us move things out. She was visiting her sister who lived down the road from our home. Upon coming over, she said her sister might be interested in buying our house! Flash forward to being under contract the day we drove away from Colorado. Needless to say it made our last few days even more of a whirlwind but it felt so amazing knowing our home would be in the hands of a friend! How surreal was it stopping at a Staples in the middle of Ohio to print out and sign Title documents? 😅

James: everything started to happen really fast. We’d been packing for over a month at that point, and to be able to put a neat little bow on things at the end of our time there was a really nice surprise. If only we could have explained to Buckwheat why all of his beds were disappearing! (once we unpacked the couch, here, I think he finally “got it”). What other fun stories do we have to impart?

Sheila: This is a random thing but our move back to the East Coast has reignited our love for running. I know you were running more frequently than me, James, but it’s been so special to run together (with Buckwheat when he feels like it) all over! We mostly run around where we live but we also got to run a few times in Florida and I think we’ve hit our stride (pun intended) with integrating running back into our lives, even when traveling. Doing so has made me think about our friend Mark, as well as our fun times running an ultra together back in 2019. Moving is always a great opportunity to start new habits and re-prioritize and I know that, for me, I intend to dedicate more time to running, biking, hiking, and paddle boarding with friends!

James: we met while running, and running was a key part of our courtship; for whatever reason neither of us really got into the groove of running while living in Colorado and in some ways it felt like the combination of backpacking (I don’t know if I’ve ever admitted this, but I actually threw out my running shoes during the heat wave in Barcelona, unable to bear the thought of carrying them in my bag anymore!), where we were walking so much that running felt incredibly difficult, followed close on its heels by COVID on our return to the States, made us more hesitant than we might otherwise have been in re-embracing our favorite activities out there. It’s been so special to run with you and Buckwheat in the mornings and on our lunch breaks.

Sheila: Couldn’t agree more! Oh, one other random thing we could mention — yesterday we went for a hike and it was so fun but Buckwheat got a little hot, so we turned around before the summit. It was still a big hike for us so we were getting excited to be back at the car but THEN there was a bear on the trail and it wouldn’t move!!! 🐻 (this bear emoji is cute, the real one was a little scarier because it was big and walking towards us)

James: yes, that was wild! We’ve decided we’re going to fully enjoy the nature on this side of what’s known here as “the Notch” (Franconia Notch, in other words) before we start living in the White Mountains (where we’ll have access to some of, if not the best hiking this side of the Rockies).

Sheila: Great to be back in the New England wilderness!

James: and great to be back, here! Looking forward to seeing what kind of goofy “She & Jim”-type license plates we can get real soon.

Sheila: haha yes, finally! I think this was a pretty good update blog and I’m glad we did it, James!

James: me too 😁. Till next time!! 👋

The day before leaving Denver, we did one last sunrise hike with Buckwheat
The day before leaving Denver, we did one last sunrise hike with Buckwheat

Adventure travel blog by James Simone & Sheila Murray. Travel along with them on their backpacking trip(s) as they actively explore the American West, Europe and beyond:

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