A Peak into the Past

I find myself wondering how we came to want this crazy life. So, if you will allow me, I’ll set out a little background for myself and for Nate.

Little Melinda

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am the youngest of five kids. By the time I was five, we had lived in three different states: Utah, Colorado and Idaho. Money was tight and travel was rarely in the budget. Before the explosion of the internet and social media, in person visits or expensive long-distance calls were our only connections to extended family. So when we did travel, it was usually to visit my Grandma in Utah.

One year, we went to Southern California to visit our Grandpa and go to Disneyland. It was the middle of December but we made the most of it! The night we arrived, we went swimming in the cool, ocean water and played chicken with the waves. Everyone around watched like we were crazy. We loved Disneyland! We spent the whole day running from one ride to the next, knowing that we had to squeeze the most out of that day. I was left with a love of the ocean and the beginnings of a desire to see new places.

We always kept a large garden and there were always chores and projects to be completed around the house. On hot Summer days, if we got our work done, we would go to the nearby lake to swim and hike. We went on family camping trips most summers. One year, my Dad took each of us kids, individually, on a camping trips. We got to the campsite after dark and had to forage around for pine cones and twigs to start a fire and cook our dinner. We spent the next day exploring and talking. That has always been one of my favorite childhood memories, just my Dad and me!

While I was going through elementary and middle school, my oldest sister went on a study abroad program through Europe and then lived in China for six months, teaching English. My brother served a mission for our church in Chile for two years. Each of them brought back souvenirs to share with us. My sister brought each of us a chocolate bar from Switzerland. I took two bites and then decided to save the rest because it was so special, only to find years later that it had gone bad long before. My brother brought me a handmade backpack that, to this day, I keep my special memories in.

My favorite movies as a kid were Anastasia and Beauty and the Beast. Russia and France became romantic dream locations that I packed away, waiting for the day when I would graduate and could go out on my own.

Little Nate

Nate was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He lived there for just a few months, before his family moved to Los Angeles, California. They lived there until he was 12, when his family moved to Idaho.

Nate was exposed to some of the Japanese culture and language, as his dad had many business dealings with companies from there. He grew up learning phrases and an appreciation for Japanese snack foods. In LA his family also associated with many Tongan people, where he developed a love for the people and a great desire to visit the South Pacific someday.

The summer before they moved to Idaho, his family took a road trip around the Western United States for six weeks. He still has great memories of amazing places like; The Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Canyons, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone and so many of the RV parks where his family stayed and met other families on similar trips. His family would go camping or backpacking occasionally, including a 50 mile backpacking trip with his Dad, brother and some friends.

After he graduated from high school, his parents took the family to Roatan, Honduras for 10 days. Nate became certified in scuba diving. He and his brother spent their time exploring the island and fitting in with the locals. I’ll have him post some time about his time on Roatan. Roatan left him with just enough taste of island life to keep him always wanting more.

On Our Own

After high school we each had some “adventures”. I worked as a nanny in New Jersey, where I had the opportunity to take day trips to New York City, Washington DC and the Poconos Mountains. A year later, I worked as a waitress at the Grand Canyon. Through both of these experiences, I made friends that would stay with me long after I had gone home.

Nate worked as a white water rafting guide in the mountains of Idaho, served a mission for our church in Ukraine, worked at Scout camps in the Florida Keys and Southern California and became a dive-master on Catalina Island. He spent his young adult years always looking for the next adventure.

Nate Catalina 2
Nate in his Catalina days

Yes, Nate was a little more ambitious than myself. Somehow, once I was free to travel on my own, something always came up to stop me, mostly lack of courage and funds.

Traveling Together

costa rica
Hanging with the locals, before good cell phone pictures

In 2005 we were married and took our honeymoon to Costa Rica. We spent one week there and visited three different parts of the country. As we walked around the capital, we saw absolute, heart-breaking poverty and we met the friendliest locals who we spent an evening with, singing and dancing together at a little dive. We fell asleep to views of an active volcano at Mt. Arenal, hiked through rain forest and visited the most beautiful hot springs I’ve ever been to. We finished our trip lounging on a black sand beach, where we enjoyed the best, fresh fruit smoothies, got sunburned and fed monkeys off of our balcony. We loved Costa Rica! Our time there wasn’t perfect, I’ll do a whole post about our experience in Costa Rica. The country was beautiful and the beach was amazing! But we decided that next time we traveled, we wanted to get off of the tourist route and find a place to explore for ourselves.

For our 7th anniversary, we decided that, after two kids, it was time for another trip, just the two of us. We looked at our options and for some reason, silly us, we decided on Las Vegas. Vegas is great but we had been there plenty of times. After a week, I just wanted to get away from the tourists and materialism. Why did we go to Vegas? You ask? This was my first time leaving the kids for more than a night and Vegas was hot (always a vacation must for us) and far enough away, without being too far. Being in Vegas for a week was too much for us but a few years later we found the right way to enjoy the city.

After that trip to Vegas, we agreed, No More Big City, Overrun Tourist Destinations! We began thinking of finding exotic, beach locations where we could blend in with the locals and find a place to explore and relax. That would be our next trip!


Next week: The Gears Start Grinding

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