What a year: 2017 recap

Phew, that’s a rap for 2017.  What a whirlwind!  This has been a year of change for me in so many ways.  I met a lot of personal and professional goals this year, as I look back, it has struck a cord of thankfulness.  One thing that didn’t change for me is traveling.  My desire to travel hasn’t diminished, but only gotten stronger.  Before I move on to my next adventures, however, I want to take a moment to reflect on the amazing travels of 2017.

Just a quick snapshot of explorations of 2017:

  • One European country: Germany
  • Two Canadian provinces: Alberta and Nova Scotia
  • Five state visits: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee, Georgia
  • Eleven “firsts”:
    • Going to a real spa for the entire day
    • Canoeing around alligators
    • Seeing the solar eclipse
    • Tasting whiskey at a distillery (can’t believe I’ve never done that!)
    • Seeing those southern trees with Spanish Moss IRL
    • Drinking wine at an outside bar on top of a mountain
    • Hiking in the snow without proper footwear
    • Sitting on the edge above a canyon
    • Jumping into freezing cold Canadian waters in my underwear
    • Hearing live Celtic music from a fifth-generation Nova Scotian
    • Riding in a two-seater fixed wing airplane.
  • 14 day/weekend trips around Ohio: Various places at Hocking Hills (6x), Mohican State Park, Malabar Farm State Park, Conkles Hollow, Coschocton, Zoar Village, Hoover Mudflats, Cincinnati, Rising Park

We started the cold winter month of January with a trip to Miami, Florida.  Since Jared had to work at the Fountainebleau, we had the exciting privilege of staying there and partaking of the amazing spa and pools.  We also have a great friend who lives there, so visiting her was the ultimate highlight.

I just found out last month that the classy, vintage restaurant “The Continental” closed!  I was so bummed, but was glad we got to eat there when we visited.  We did a lot of cool things there, and all that can be read in this post: Travel Guide to Miami. 

In February, we visited some friends in Philly and took a day-trip to NYC.  (I wrote a post about free things to do in the city.)  There are actually a lot of free things to do that I love.  Like, ahem, the American Museum of Natural History.

In March I turned 29 and we drove to Atlanta to visit my father-in-law and step mother-in-law.  On our way there, we used our National Parks pass to visit Point Park National Park with some friends.  This trip inspired me to write the post 6 ways to save money on your next trip.

In April, we returned to Europe and explored a new country for us: Germany.  What a trip!  We were excited to see some of the Reformation sites since it’s the 500th anniversary of the start of the reformation: when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of Castle Church.  One of my favorite parts of this trip was Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  A preserved medieval city that is picturesque and filled with history.  Not to mention, their Medieval museum has rose to the top of my favorite museums in the world list.

I wrote two posts about Germany.  One was a guide to road-tripping from Munich to Berlin in a week (which is what we did) and the Martin Luther sites to see.

In May, we stayed overnight in Hocking Hills and enjoyed the beautiful park to the soundtrack of my dad’s symphonic masterpiece.

In June, we took an amazing once-in-a-lifetime trip with some great friends to Alberta, Canada, where we visited two of their amazing parks: Jasper and Banff.  A dream come true in some many ways.  We laughed hard, played hard, saw hard and relaxed hard.  And we even froze hard when we jumped in the freezing waters.  It was a trip I’ll never forget.  For more pictures and a complete review of what we did, I wrote about it here.

In July, we took a day-trip to West Virginia to look at some property and I was amazed by the beauty.  I think I say this every time I go there, but it’s usually something like, “I forgot how beautiful this place is.”  It’s close enough to visit regularly, and def. worth the trip.  Here is a post about what all we did in West Virginia.

August was Nova Scotia.  This place was dreamy.  If you love Scotland (which I do, and if you don’t, I have to ask WHY?) then you’ll love New Scotland.  Whiskey-tasting and the beautiful beaches were the highlight.  Our Airbnb host recommended a beach to us that we basically had to ourselves.  It was incredible.  (Full review on Nova Scotia here)

September we took a family trip to Tennessee.  The highlights were watching my niece and nephew tube around the lake and NEVER get tired, and seeing Smoky Mountain National Park with my parents and sister.  We spent four entire summers here performing in an outdoor drama, so returning and reliving the childhood memories was a treat.

In October, we splurged and stayed at the Glenlaurel Inn, enjoyed the 6-course Sunday dinner and hiked around the property soaking in those golden tree views.  The next day we enjoyed a scenic air tour of Hocking Hills.  It seriously was the best way to enjoy fall in Ohio.  To plan this exact trip for next fall, check out this post.

In November, we visited St. Augustine for the very first time.  We stayed at a perfect little Airbnb with bikes that allowed us to explore Anastasia Island.  We also cooked most of our meals there, and even roasted a chicken.  Has anyone else roasted a chicken at an Airbnb? (Maybe I should have added this to my “firsts” list!)  We also took a day trip to Ocala National Forest where we got to canoe around little alligators.  Want to do this to?  Here’s my travel guide.

Like I said, it was a whirlwind.  As I’m looking back, we had an exploration every month, with the exception of December.  We’re always gone in December, and we decided that this year, we wanted to be home for the holidays and soak up all the Christmas feels.  But….. next December is our 10th wedding anniversary, so count on me being somewhere amazing for that milestone!

On a personal note, other highlights of the year include: earning my master’s degree in August (Library and Museum Studies… woot woot!),  self-publishing my first book, participating in a weight-loss challenge where I lost the 10 lbs I gained while working full time (while getting said master’s degree.. what can I say?  Lots of late night studying and eating), receiving a job promotion and receiving opportunities through blogging to review awesome travel products (which was always a dream of mine!)

And… I’m not even 30 yet!  This year marks reaching many milestones for me, and all before my 30th birthday, and for that I’m grateful.  I am thankful for all the things that have happened this year, and I know I didn’t do it alone.  I had support from my husband, family and friends who made it possible for me to pursue these goals and have such a great year.

I want to thank you for reading my posts, and supporting me on this blog.  I have heard horror stories of people being rather nasty online, and fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with that.  Not to say I won’t ever experience negativity in the future, but so far, it’s been a positive ride.  I am honored that anyone would read my travel ramblings, and I hope to continue writing and contributing to the travel world’s information-sharing culture.

What will 2018 travels bring?  For once, I don’t have all my travels planned out.  In January, we’re renting a van and driving around to see some of California’s amazing national parks.  What’s after that?  Lots of ideas thrown around.  Lots of possibilities.  I’m hoping something hot, something cold, something familiar and something epic.  But stay tuned… you’ll know as soon as I do!

To close 2017, I’m going to sum it up with this obnoxious picture of me in love with my husband on top of a mountain.

I hope 2018 is filled with as much love and adventure as 2017 was!  As the president of my local history organization always says at the end of the meeting, “let’s go out and make our personal history a great one!”  So, people, make yours a great one!

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