Hello, 2014! 2013 has been a big year for me. I graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology two weeks ago, I grew a lot as a person, and, well, I spent a crazy amount of time traveling! So, I thought I would do my annual wrap-up from the year before with my best travel moments of 2013… Hold on to your seats because there are twenty-eight of them!
Beale Street is a pretty magical place. Even though there are so many ‘tourist traps’, it’s still fun to stroll down the street, eat BBQ and hear people singing the blues. Always a great time!
Havasu Canyon, Arizona:
My dad and I took another road trip to the Southwest, and it was absolutely amazing! The highlight for me was Havasu Falls. It was totally worth the 10 mile hike into the canyon!
Antelope Canyon, Arizona:
This is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited. This canyon is absolutely stunning, and as you stroll between its walls it’s really incredible to watch how the changing light shifts the colors from yellow to red to orange.
Horseshoe Bend Overlook, Arizona
Horseshoe Bend Overlook is right outside Page, Arizona, and it is where the Colorado River bends into a horseshoe shape. It looks beautiful against the glorious red-rock backdrop. Be sure to time it right to avoid shadows like the ones I got in this picture. It’s only a half mile “hike” from the parking area right off the highway, so be sure not to miss it!
The La Sal Mountains in Moab, Utah:
One of my favorite things about taking road trips is all of the absolutely amazing views you get to see- especially in the Southwest! This was one of my favorite views from the road this year- the snow-covered La Sal Mountains sticking out beautifully over the red Moab formations.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah:
In the summer of 2012 my dad and I made a trip through the Moab region and we immediately fell in love. So, while we were in the area we decided we wanted to do some 4-wheel-driving in Canyonlands National Park. We didn’t quite get the experience that we wanted, but we still had an absolutely amazing time! Lesson learned: look up the closings and other details on the National Parks website before visiting!
I finally made my first trip to Chicago in April and it was incredible! This was my first time really walking through a “big city” downtown area, being dwarfed by these massive buildings! It was a great trip filled with pizza, artwork and observation decks! I even had my first Couchsurfing experience!
MoMA- New York, New York
Seeing Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ was definitely a highlight of my year. I was in New York City for a few days in May and exploring the MoMA was even more incredible than I expected. ‘Starry Night’ is one of my all-time-favorite paintings (a bit cliché, I know but that’s because it is such an incredible and moving work of art). I almost cried when I saw it, and I even had to go back for another left before I left the museum.
Top of the Rock- New York City, New York:
You can’t go to New York City and not fall in love with its iconic skyline. My favorite skyline-moment was taking in the view from the Top of the Rockefeller Center. I loved being up there and being able to see the Empire State Building, Central Park and so much more!
Central Park- New York City, New York:
Central Park was a must-see for me. It is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s surprisingly peaceful and quiet considering it’s in the middle of the busiest city in the United States. It’s totally worth seeing!
Although we didn’t do anything in these serene mountains, we did spend an afternoon and early evening in the United State’s smallest capital, the quaint Montpelier, and it left me with the hunger to go back and visit these beautiful, green mountains.
Montreal is a city that took me by surprise in many ways. It was like a little France in North America! One of my favorite things was going to the Jean-Talon Market in the mornings and sampling the delicious, fresh fruits. I even got to practice my shaky French (the market was one of the only places I could actually use it).
Acadia National Park, Maine:
Acadia National Park is one of those parks that you aren’t all that blown away by by simply driving through, but once you start hiking, it’s pretty incredible. There are hikes along the beaches, through the woods and up cliffs for some remarkable views and surprises. Stumbling upon this gorgeous lake, The Bowl, was my favorite surprise that Acadia National Park had for me.
One of my favorite parts of my over-20-day road trip was spending the day in Boston with this amazing woman! I met Izzy on a trip to Italy in 2011, and I instantly felt a connection with this incredibly sweet, fellow-student-of-anthropology. Izzy showed us everything we needed to see and eat. She was the perfect tour guide, giving all kinds of fun-facts about Boston and its monuments. I hadn’t seen this girl in two years and she was still so amazing and welcoming! Izzy definitely made my time in Boston.
The U.S.S. Constitution- Boston, Massachusetts:
Boston is, of course, one of the most historical cities in the United States, and my favorite historical site we visited was touring the U.S.S. Constitution. We actually got there about an hour after it closed, and I asked if we could just step out on the dock to take a photo, and instead, we ended up getting a private, after-hours tour of the ship! So cool!
Seaside Park, New Jersey:
There were dozens of things that I loved about New Jersey: Italian ice, the accents, buttered rolls in the morning, black and white cookies, the view of the New York City skyline, spending time with great people, the pizza and so much more! However, the afternoon I spent on the Jersey Shore Boardwalk definitely sticks out in my memory. It was such a fun day filled with pizza, laughs, ice cream, sunbathing and saltwater taffy!
Washington, D.C. :
Well, it only took me 23 years, but I finally made it to the United States Capital! I had a great time walking everywhere (even though it was super hot and muggy). I loved seeing the monuments, memorials and museums. The view from the Lincoln Memorial was especially stunning.
Independence Hall- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:
I was actually surprised at just how much I enjoyed Philadelphia. We took the day to explore the city on foot. The highlight for me was Independence Hall. Definitely take the tour because it was filled with information, and it was so interesting to see where my country began! Plus, everything we did that day, including the tour, was free!
Sequoia National Park, California:
I loved Sequoia National Park! I actually had no plans to visit Sequoia, it just so happened that we had to pass through it to get to Kings Canyon National Park, and I’m so glad that we had to go through it! It was so awe-inspiring hiking (and even driving) through a 2,000-year-old forest! We even got to see the largest tree (by volume) on the face of this planet! Definitely take the time to visit this park if you are in this part of California!
Kings Canyon National Park, California:
I had never even heard of Kings Canyon National Park until it was mentioned on an NPR story about lesser-known parks within the National Park Services, and I am so glad that I heard about it because it was beautiful! This was my favorite view that I saw- it was from my hike on the way to Mist Falls. Mist Falls was beautiful, but this view was my favorite thing on the 10-mile roundtrip hike!
Joshua Tree National Park, California:
My main intention in going to Joshua Tree was to do some rock-climbing, and even though we didn’t get to do any climbing, it was still a great time! Michael and I got to the park around sunset, setup camp, made a fire, toasted to the camping trip and spent the evening and part of the night hanging out and talking. We also took a night hike and Michael taught me how to take pictures of stars and lights. It was a great family reunion!
Venice Beach, California:
I’m not usually a beach person, but I really loved Venice Beach. Granted my idea of “going to the beach” was sitting in a cafe, eating, and drinking sangria looking out at this glorious view and watching the crazy performers lining the sidewalks. One evening we rode bikes from Venice to Santa Monica, and I really enjoyed that beach experience as well.
Busiek State Forest, Missouri:
Busiek State Forest is one of my favorite places to go if I just need a little nature-fix. It’s only about 25-30 minutes away from Springfield, and it’s just so great to be able to walk through this forest, wade through the river, and pick flowers from the fields.
Hemmed-In-Hollow Falls- Ponca Wilderness Area, Arkansas:
My brother and I took a day trip down to Arkansas this summer to hike down to the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachians… Unfortunately, as you can see, it was a dry summer, and the falls were more than a bit weak, but it was still a fun day spent with my big brother!
Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Missouri:
Stacey and I try to meet each other at least a couple times a year to go hiking, and this hiking trip was my favorite of the two we took in 2013! Lake of the Ozarks State Park was really peaceful, and there were so many different aspects to it. We went on a few hikes, took the tour of the Cave (which was actually really cool) and there’s also a lake for anyone interested in swimming or fishing.
Kansas City, Missouri:
I spent a weekend in Kansas City in October, and it was an absolute blast! I got to see a bunch of my friends that I don’t get to see very often, I went to my first Major League Baseball game and so much more! It was a such great time spent with so many of my favorite people!
Laura Ingalls Wilder Home- Mansfield, Missouri:
Being a childhood fan of the Little House on the Prairie books, revisiting this museum and the two houses that Laura lived in was a really great time. It was so cool to go as an adult, and look back at something I loved so much when I was a little girl.
Crystal Bridges Art Museum- Bentonville, Arkansas:
On a weekend trip to Arkansas I got to visit this impeccably designed Art Museum. There were several interesting works of art, but I think that the building itself was my favorite work of art.
I hope everyone else had a year filled with amazing moments. What were the moments that helped define this year for you? Cheers to 2014!
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