Last year, instead of setting specific goals or resolutions, a group of friends and I each picked thee words that we wanted to associate with 2016. One of mine was ‘adventure’, both as a nod to the adventure of our second year living abroad and also to travel, a shared passion with M. Looking back over the past 12 months, it turns out that there were only a couple of months of the year that we weren’t hiking through a National Park, exploring a new city or visiting friends and family in the UK, so I wanted to reflect on those travel adventures in this round-up.
We rung in 2016 with some of my favourite people in in one of my favourite places – a cottage in deepest darkest Wales that I’ve been lucky enough to visit once or twice a year for nearly a decade. It’s such a special place, surrounded by rugged countryside and fields of heather. I’ve blogged about it before and this time there were about 11 of us crammed into every available space, cooking together, playing boardgames and going for walks in the rain.
This is where things get awkward, as February is the month that M had a nasty bike accident and I left him a day later to spend a long weekend in Utah. The timing could have been better but there’s no denying that the trip was a massive highlight for me, as I got to visit dear friends and explore two stunning National Parks, Canyonlands and Arches. This post recaps my visit (and explains why I was a bad wife).
March was a busy month but we managed to squeeze in a trip to the closest National Park to San Francisco, Pinnacles. There are a couple of caves in the park and it just so happened that we visited on the first weekend of the year when both were open! It was just for a day but it was lovely to rent a car and get out of the city and explore our first Californian park.
I travelled to LA for work in April and even though it hasn’t won me over yet, it was fun to visit museums such as LACMA and The Broad. It’s a city that, despite visiting several times, I just haven’t connected with, but never say never – next time might be the trip that things click.
This month was action-packed as we spent five days in Brooklyn visiting my friend P and her boyfriend who had flown over from London, then later in the month we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary with a blow-out trip to Palm Springs. I was convinced I wouldn’t like Palm Springs, that it would be too hot and that sitting by a pool for the best part of a day would get dull quick, but it was actually just what the doctor ordered. Typically the sitting down thing didn’t last long as we ended up visiting Joshua Tree National Park and walking around Mount San Jacinto State Park.
In June I flew solo to New York to surprise my parents, who were there to celebrate Mama Ship-Shape’s birthday. I didn’t even let my dad in on the secret and pulling off the surprise was a highlight of my year. There were tears, slight bewilderment on their part and then a whirlwind 48 hours of bus tours, breakfasts and walking across Brooklyn Bridge.
Adventure was the name of the game in July as we travelled across the American West in a certain someone’s birthday present to himself – a 1964 Mustang. Deciding not to let ridiculously hot temperatures and a serious lack of air-conditioning get to us, we spent seven days traveling 2,700 miles across six states, including visits to four National Parks (Yellowstone, Gran Teton, Great Basin and Yosemite). Blog posts to follow soon…
In October I went back to England for M’s brother’s wedding. Ten months felt like the longest time to go without seeing friends and family but I managed to pack in a lot and see just about everyone while still fitting in a couple of portions of fish and chips, walks along the beach and a mandatory visit to Topshop. Later in the month we visited our friends L & K (and their new arrival) in Salt Lake City, Utah. The five of us spent a couple of days at Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park, walking among the coral-coloured hoodoos, watching sunrise and searching for petroglyphs.
We celebrated New Year’s Eve weekend in Big Sur, a stretch of unspoiled California coastline that’s been on my wish list to visit since moving to San Francisco. It was colder and wetter than I was expecting, but that didn’t stop us from hiking, visiting elephant seals (and their pups!) and cruising along Highway 1 taking in the beautiful views of the Pacific ocean.
Here’s to another year of adventures! This year I’d love to visit Mexico, Canada and explore more of the West Coast. What destinations are on your wish list for 2017?