And so we come to the end of another year. This time of year is always a little tender as I take stock of the year being left behind and looking forward to the year ahead. Years ebb and flow, some great and others less so, each with lessons to learn and grateful moments to share. So how to really measure a year is always the question.
One of the best analogies I’ve heard is looking at life’s years as you would the peaks and valleys of the mountains. Sometimes you are on the difficult climb with slippery parts and rocks in the path, tears and profanity may occur at any time. But then you reach the top and you are overwhelmed with how far you have come and how strong you really are to bring you to such an amazing point. And so you continue down from the peak full of gusto and spirit, feeling this part is much smoother than the hike to the top, all the while knowing that there will be other peaks and valleys to come.
With that in mind, I would say this past year has been more of a difficult climb with bouts of tears and profanity as I maneuver over the rocks in the path. Between some ugly office politics, the stress of both Brad and I finishing up masters degrees, and having to cancel our much anticipated trips to Costa Rica and France it has been a little bit of a rough patch. But one day soon we will reach the peak and see just how far this year brought us.
Besides the rocky parts, this year has also given us a lot of great weekend adventures that we have loved. This year has taken us to 16 states, 4 of which I had never been to before. So allow me to share with you the places we’ve been this year.
Ah, Tennessee. The place we’ve called home for 2 1/2 years now. We keep discovering more and more to love about his state. This year has gotten us in touch with some interesting history, beautiful art, natural wonders, and fun experiences. Just when we think we’ve seen it all we discover something new to love.
We’ve been to Georgia a couple of times. The first visit took us to the Chattahoochie River in the winter where the bare trees were so lovely against the cool blue of the river. Springtime took us for a visit to Rock City Gardens with an overlook that offers views of 7 states. We then went back in December to see the lights there too which we loved.
Alabama has been a surprising and wonderful destination for us this year. We had a mystical walk through Russel Cave National Monument. We happened upon Mobile in time for Mardi Gras and then enjoyed the beach scene and points of interest of the Gulf Coast.
On a random detour coming home from Alabama, we went over to visit the pristine beaches of the Gulf Shores National Seashore. We loved getting to walk along the white sand and look out toward the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
We spent a weekend exploring around Asheville and the surrounding area. We loved taking the Urban Tour through town and marveling at the interesting architecture. Then we climbed to the top of Chimney Rock State Park with some beautiful winter views of the valley below.
Kentucky continues to be the neighboring state that we visit frequently. On a weekend in Lexington we visited the Aviation Museum, National Horse Park, and Camp Nelson National Historic Site. Later in the year we took an amazing tour through Mammoth Cave National park.
A work trip took me to Colorado where I got to reconnect with some family and learn about some Native American traditions like prayer trees and water rocks. I walked around the beautiful Garden of the Gods where towering red rocks were set against the blue sky.
We met up with my in-laws for a canoeing trip down the National Buffalo River in Arkansas. We loved the quiet, gentle current taking us down through the lush green of the area.
We went to the very north part of Indiana to visit Indiana Dunes National Park which sits right on the shore of Lake Michigan. This park is pretty small and one of the lesser known national parks. It made for a perfect day trip walking along the rocky shores of the park.
Since we were in the north part of Indiana, we just continued driving north a little ways into Michigan. We went to visit the city of Holland, the largest Dutch community in the country, and enjoyed wandering through the Windmill Island Gardens complete with an imported windmill.
A visit to Dayton Ohio brought up close and personal with some incredible aviation history, first with the Wright Brothers humble beginnings and then to the National United States Air Force Museum. Then we drove north to experience the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
On a trip to New England we stopped at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Massachusetts to learn about the firearm history that has happened here since the Revolutionary War. This armory has been the frontrunner for firearms since then and have been noted for the innovations and technology.
In New Hampshire we were inspired by the home and gardens of Saint-Gaudens, one of the country’s best known sculptors. We also went on an incredible hike through the Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park.
We learned about the conservation history from the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park in Vermont. We also got to see the second longest covered bridge in the country set against the beautiful colors of fall.
Our visit to New England ended with seeing the Mark Twain House and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. These two authors were neighbors for many years in Hartford and it was so interesting to learn how their words changed the world.
We are ending the year at my in-laws farm in Missouri where we are glad to be surrounded by family and to have the opportunity to get to go out to play in the snow. We got to see the most epic drive thru light display at the Vietnamese Christian Monastery in the city of Carthage. The entire space is filled with biblical stories and other pictures in electro light sculptures and it is amazing to see.
Thanks for coming along with me on this wild ride. I feel grateful for you and the time given, the comments shared, and the friendships created here in this corner of the blog world. Thank you for being part of my 2022. May this new year bring you love, joy, and many adventures.
Thank you 2022 for all you have given me, hello 2023 and all that you have in store!