Year in Review – 2011

To give you a standard greeting, at least as Christmas letters are concerned, this year has been a big one! We’ve traveled, trained and transitioned our lives, being blessed along the way to be able to lead the lives that we do. Our year started off with me looking for a job, as I finally graduated. I was able to continue some work for the university, but it was only a temporary position. I was primarily looking for jobs in the realm of web and graphic design, and the market was a little slim. A few freelance jobs fortunately came about to keep things afloat. I was gracious to have my endearing wife by my side, willing to put up with her temporarily jobless husband during this time. The free time did have some blessings as we were preparing to head off on our first mission trip together to the Philippines in March. During this time, Jess also registered us for our first marathon. She was still on a high from her last season of running and looking forward to running a marathon in 2011. We decided on the Portland Marathon, primarily for it location and also because we had heard so many good reviews. By registering early, it made sure that we wouldn’t slack, and would be ready once October hit.

We were nearing our departure date for the Philippines, not only was time slipping by, but I was still jobless. We had decided that I couldn’t find a job by the time the trip came around, we would start looking elsewhere. Jess and I have always imagined that we would move away from Bozeman at some point in our lives, but were unsure as to when. Just two weeks before our trip, I received a call from former church acquaintance, offering me a job, as a graphic and web designer. So a week before we crossed the ocean, I started my new job. This was a God-send in many ways, namely that I finally had a job, it was in the field that I wanted to work in and also that they were okay with me taking two weeks off right at the start!

The days leading up to our trip were filled with packing, repacking and other wise preparing ourselves for the journey. We set off early in the morning out of Bozeman. Fortunately, all 14 of us were able to ride the same plane both to and from the Philippines. We of course had some down time to wait before our first flight, you could read either excitement or worry on the other team members faces. Our travel went extremely smooth, with everything going according to plan. After a long flight across the Pacific ocean, a quick layover in Tokyo, and a jump to Manilla, we were tired and ready to sleep a few precious hours. The trip was the pinnacle of this year. Jess and I were forever changed by our experience over there.

We also took some time over the winter to take up snowshoeing, mostly thanks to my brother coming out and inviting us to come along. We were hooked, so we invested in some winter blow-out sets and are excited to get out on them this winter and experience a new side of the Montana wilderness. As we transitioned into spring, we also transitioned into more running. We were able to shoot our first wedding together, as well as a set of engagements for a college classmate of mine. It was great to get out and shoot “professionally” and help support the hobby. Our first half-marathon was around this time. We both ran the Lewis & Clark half-marathon, and it was a rough one for us as we hadn’t been training much on the hills, a thing that this course was full of. Jess PR’d and I came in just a couple minutes shy of my best. Our second half-marathon of the season was even hillier.

[singlepic id=102 w=450 h=299]The Madison Marathon is only a couple years old, but it has already made a name for itself as the highest road race in America. It was a great race to run, with great people to run it with. We didn’t PR on our 9,000 ft. average trek, but we did enjoy the pristine views from atop the Gravelly Mountain Range near Ennis, MT. We enjoyed our time up their so much we made sure to come back and camp out for an evening. Speaking of camping, Jess and I also enjoyed some great times under the stars and surrounded by nature throughout the summer. One such camping trip, we hiked up to Pine Creek Lake, above Paradise Valley. It was a long, steep hike up a beautiful valley, on a beautiful summer’s eve. We had to maintain a moderate pace to make it up the five mile trail, with an elevation gain of over 3,300 ft. And boy was it worth it! We made up to the top at dusk. We could finally see a lake in front of us, its true size hidden from us by the darkening sky. We knew that it would be a clear evening, so we just packed a tarp to sleep on. We quickly set up camp, started a toasty blaze, ate and settled in for the night. We were awe stricken by the beauty of the night sky. We could even see the bands in the Milky Way, truly breathtaking in every way. When we awoke in the morning, we noticed that the lake in front of us was actually rather small. Turns out that Pine Creek Lake was actually just a few hundred feet up the hill. It was an amazing place to be.

We also celebrated with many friends and family this summer during weddings, both in Montana and in Oregon. It was great to have multiple excuses to visit with family this year as we also held a little grad party for myself and my sister-in-law to celebrate our baccalaureate successes. As we passed into fall, one thing was primarily on the mind, the Portland Marathon. We were getting into the high-mileage section of our training, with the cap being at 21 miles. During this time, we also shot our second wedding together, and we spent a wonderful and relaxing weekend at the Lewis & Clark Caverns. We rented a little cabin and toured the caverns, a great little tour that I would recommend to anyone, except those with moderate to severe claustrophobia.

The View

The View

The time that we had spent all year waiting for had finally arrived. We took a little road trip out to Oregon, along with Jess’s sister and another good friend of ours. We gave ourselves a few days, both before and after, so we wouldn’t feel too rushed. The Marathon was great, an encouraging experience to say the least. Jess rocked it! All I can say is that I finished it running. I don’t really ever want to run that distance again, not to say it will never happen, but its just not at the top of my list anymore. I will be satisfied with running 10k’s and halves and cheering on Jess from the sidelines for anything longer. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a nice duathlon in 2012. Jess on the other hand has already planned her next one, the Country Music Rock’N’Roll in Nashville this coming April. I will be running the half, perhaps with my brother and his wife as they live in Nashville, which is mostly the reason to run that particular race.

This winter has been fairly quiet. I have been busy at work, coding, designing and shooting video. Jess is still the office manager for the West Main branch of Owenhouse Ace Hardware. She actually just had her annual Christmas work party, one that she and another coworker planned and managed. She did an absolutely wonderful job! The next two weeks of the year will probably be fairly quiet. We are staying in Bozeman this year for Christmas and the new year, a bit of a deviation from seasons past, as we normally head out to Oregon for a few days to see family. But as we already made three trips out there this year, we could not afford the time away from work.

So what will the year 2012 hold for the Powells? I don’t really know. We are just incredibly blessed to have had such an amazing year. We are looking forward to what God and life brings our way! As always you can keep tabs on us simply by checking out our blog. May you and yours have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Brent & Jessica Powell

Posted by Brent

So, I am a God fearing, husband to one amazing woman, an IT professional, camera wielding, part-time runner, outdoor enthusing, tinkering, coffee loving man. I am currently Co-Founder of Thirty Five Media in Bozeman, MT as well as an IT Manager for TREC, Inc. and a Creative Director at Venture Church. The plate is usually full, but I wouldn't trade it for anything!