There is something really special about the end of a year and the letting go of one year and looking forward to the next. I love these days after Christmas and before the end of the year comes. For me it is such a reflective and tender time when I look back and marvel at all of what was the year. We had our best of times, we had our worst of times, and we just had those times that were neither good or bad but the fabric of daily life. But they have all made up the year and I feel grateful for all of them and what they taught me.
This is our first full year here in Tennessee. We have spent the year in our new house and working on making it our own. We have been making our way around the state seeing what we could, adding new state parks to our list, and checking out some of the nearby states as well. This year I visited two states that I’ve never seen before and one new country. Hopefully 2022 will be more full of travel opportunities and less full of pandemic related restrictions.
So now allow me to share with you where this year has taken me…
Home sweet home! Tennessee really has such a wealth of places to visit. I have loved checking off state parks as we visit them and the many suspension bridges that we have crossed. Visiting different historic sites around the states has been a interesting look at the things that have made this state what it is. I have learned so much about the American Civil War from this time of living on the dividing line between the ideologies. For all we’ve seen in this year- we haven’t even scratched the surface of everything that Tennessee has to share.
The beginning of the year took me to the Phoenix area for my friends wedding. Saguaro cacti and stunning views of Lost Dutchman State Park marked this trip in between all of the wedding festivities.
Georgia has been a great discovery this year for me. Before I had ever just driven through it but had not really seen it. But I’ve seen a couple of the beautiful state parks, learned some more about the Civil War, flown with Superman, and seen the incredible views from Lookout Mountain. I am hoping to go and see Atlanta in this next year and everything that great city has to offer.
Kentucky has been a regular on our adventures this year because of its proximity to us. I loved seeing the athletic legends of the Louisville Slugger baseball bats and the Kentucky Derby horserace that are home to Louisville. Getting in touch with the humble beginnings of President Abraham Lincoln at his birthplace was a honor. And seeing the beautiful areas that really show the state at its finest.
In May Tessa and I went to the Central Coast of California to see some friends. Getting to hug them in person was the best part of the trip but the next best was the interesting places we got to visit with them. We saw the beautiful Danish community of Solvang, the historic Santa Barbara Mission, the exuberant lavishness of the Madonna Inn, and enjoyed the Pacific at a few state parks.
On a quick trip to Missouri we spent a day at Silver Dollar City enjoying all the thrills of this early 1900s themed amusement park. They were celebrating their 60th anniversary which made it all the more fun to be there.
On our way back from Missouri we made a quick stop at Crowley’s Ridge State Park in Arkansas. I had never visited Arkansas before but after our visit it was easy to see why they proudly claim the title of the ‘Natural State’. Such a beautiful part of the country that I want to see more of.
The summer took me on an unforgettable trip to Israel. I saw many national parks, got in touch with parts of the Bible, learned about the complex political and religious relationships, and got to ride a camel for the first time. This trip was so incredible and I felt like I came home a different person from what I was when I left.
On a random getaway we found ourselves in West Virginia, another state that I had never been to before. We visited the country’s newest national park, New River Gorge, and saw some of the natural beauty that is so characteristic to this area. No wonder that John Denver sang about it being almost heaven.
We spent a weekend back in Florida where we enjoyed the excitement of Universal Studios and the splashing about at Volcano Bay waterpark. Our chapter of living in Florida seems like another lifetime ago. But any reason to have a drink of butterbeer is a good one and so off to Universal we went.
And last but not least, we are ending the year with a visit to my family in Utah where we are enjoying the winter wonderland of the mountains. I get very homesick for these mountains and all the hiking trails that I explored there. And feeling very glad to be here now reconnecting with my roots and seeing my family.
Thank you for coming along down the year’s memory lane with me today. I appreciate the time and comments that you share with me and for letting me be part of your 2021. I hope that this next year brings all good things your way and that it is a year full of love, joy, and adventure. Thank you 2021 for all that you’ve given me. Hello 2022 and all that you have in store!