The Year in Scribbles – 2011

Per U.S. Christmas Code 25, it is required that all participants in family events and/or Christmas are required to distribute a missive stating their activities and/or accomplishments of the past year.  Hereupon, the Hughes’ submit said missive.

It may be best to classify 2011 as the Year in Travel.  In the past twelve months, we’ve gone halfway around the globe, across the United States (and back), and even gone 150 years into the past.  In between we were visited by a President, a King and Queen, and got to visit a Queen across the pond.  We went for runs in seven different states and three separate countries.  Steph boarded 40 planes (39 of which took off) while Matt set foot on a dozen or so.

Needless to say, we’re glad the Christmas holiday was spent at home.

(This missive may be long and is punctuated by the occasional picture.  You have been warned.)

The highlight of the year was far and away our March trip across the Atlantic to visit the United Kingdom.   We spent a few days in Edinburgh, Scotland where we met up with Steph’s friend Lanee’ who had been studying abroad and was happy to give us a tour of the town.  Along the way, we saw Sterling Castle, ate at the Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel), sampled haggis, and fell in love with Scottish accents.

London came next with all the tourist sites – Shakespeare’s Globe, the British Museum, the British Library, and, of course, Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross.  We even caught a showing of Chicago in the theater district.  We watched the Changing of the Guard in the company of an elderly British veteran who gave us insights that all the other tourists missed out on when they were jockeying for a good camera position.

Tintern Abbey

A train whisked us away from London and into Wales.  There we visited another of Steph’s friends, Laura, who has lived in the country for the last eight or nine years.  A day trip took us out to Tintern Abbey where a faulty memory card in our camera almost caused us to convert.  A second trip took us over to the beautiful city of Bath.

Our final major stop was to the village of Haltwhistle, where we hiked 12 miles along Hadrian’s Wall and took in some of the most beautiful countryside imaginable.  We wrapped up the trip by returning to Edinburgh before flying home, promising that some day we would come back (and possibly never return).

No sooner than we had stepped off the plane did we board another in May and fly out to California to attend the wedding of Steph’s cousin – Andy – in Los Angeles.   The bride’s family was … well, very cool, energetic, and fixated on babies.  Matt also got the chance to hang out with Viable Paradise buddy Chia.

Back home in Iowa and with our travels (temporarily) behind us, we settled into our usual pattern – running. And lots of it.

It started off with the Coach Jim Boughton Run for the Cure 5K where Steph set a Personal Record by over a minute and earned a 2nd place medal.

Luther College Relay Race

Matt was one of the race directors for the Luther College Sesquicentennial Relay Race, a 150km race starting at Halfway Creek, WI and passing through three states to arrive back home in Decorah, Iowa.  Eighty-some runners came out to participate and even though the temperatures were abnormally warm (upper 90s all weekend), everyone seemed to have a great time.

Coincidentally, the relay race also fell on the same weekend as our 12th wedding anniversary.  Steph summed it up best:

26.2 Miles Later


Two weeks later, we traveled up north to Duluth, Minnesota where we ran in the 35th Grandma’s Marathon.  This was Matt’s third marathon and Steph’s second.  Despite cool temperatures (40s), 15+mph winds, and on-and-off rain, we both set Personal Records (3:37 and 3:58, respectively) and survived the weekend.

Sometime around July, Steph’s employer thought it would be a good idea for her to start going out and visiting clients around the country.  This meant travel and lots of it.  She’s visited Portland, Oregon so often that we are looking into getting her permanent residency.  She also made a few trips out to Pennsylvania whereupon she made such an impact that when she left, the entire university rioted.  Or maybe it had something to do with some football coach but we’re pretty sure it was Steph.

In between, we kept running (and traveling).  Together with some friends we headed up to Hayward, WI where we ran in the Birkie Trail Marathon Relay.  We also made the (short) trip to La Crescent, MN to run the Applefest 5K Road Race.  All the while we tended to our sprawling gardens, made apple cider, and saw the end of summer.

October marked the end of the racing season as we traveled to Middleton, WI to run the Haunted Hustle 1/2 Marathon.  The whole thing was Greg’s idea and as an added bonus, it became a family weekend with the entire Hughes clan (sans Jon) came up to watch.  Matt and Greg finished finished together in 1:42.  Steph, on the other hand, kept up her tradition of setting Personal Records in 2011 by finishing in 1:49.  For those keeping track, that’s a PR in the 5K, 1/2 Marathon, and Full Marathon in the same year.

Onto November where in a rare turn of events, both Matt and Steph traveled at the same time and to the same time zone but not the same place.  Steph went back to Oregon while Matt headed a bit further south to San Francisco.   He did the usual tourist bits (cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc) plus got a behind the scenes tour of AT&T Ballpark and a chance to eat some of the city’s best sushi.

Thanksgiving saw us down in St. Louis, visiting our good friends Becky and Simon.  Thankfully, no one had to have an organ removed this year.

As the year comes to a close, we celebrate in the comfort of our own home. There’s no snow on the ground, the temperatures are more akin to spring than winter but as the old saying goes, there’s no place like it.

2011 was good to us.  2012?  Well, we’ll see about that.  There will be more travel (to a place that’s warm with blue waters), a new kitchen, and you can bet on some more running about.  Maybe even a surprise or two.  But that’s then.  This is now.

May you all have a Happy New Year.

Happy New Year