I’ve read a lot of posts about the events of 2017 relating to the news, politics, pop culture, etc. From a global perspective, 2017 was…hard to explain. Life and travel events of 2017 for me, however, are not to difficult to sum up.
In talking about 2018 travel plans, I told my boyfriend Michael that I really want to travel internationally once or twice. He was quick to remind me that although we only went on one international trip together in 2017, we went on road trips, camping trips, and mini getaways almost every month.
This first full calendar year that I haven’t traveled full-time is the first in which I’ve realized more than ever that travel isn’t the only thing that shapes my life. Love, family, work — these aspects of life came into play this year because I wasn’t traveling as much, and I am perfectly fine with that.
I’m not a digital nomad anymore, but my life is still full of travel and adventure and I still had an unforgettable year. These 12 life and travel moments stood out to me the most.
1. My siblings and I went to Iceland
My brother, sister-in-law, her brother, and I took off to Iceland just a few days after 2017 began. It was frigid, there were only five hours of daylight, and it was one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to. From seeing the Northern Lights to taking road trips along the coast and Golden Circle, Iceland was a total dream.
This trip was special because the four of us spent quality time together. I hadn’t been on a trip with my brother since we were kids. I knew he’d be having kids soon, we probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like this. Little did I expect to be a new aunt to an adorable baby nephew later this year!
2. I got hit by a car
Yeah…this was not exactly a fun travel or life moment, but I can’t not mention it. But I can definitively say that getting hit by a car as I lawfully crossed the street in March has changed my life. Not a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of that accident, and although I am better, for the most part, I’m still recovering psychologically and physically.
Aside from back pain, weaker muscles in my left (a dominant) arm, and headaches, I feel fine. I’m a patient in a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) study and have had a few special fMRI scans to track my progress.
Psychologically, I’m hypersensitive to crossing the street and even walking on sidewalks. I don’t trust drivers to pay attention. I wish for the life of me that I could remember the accident, though I know it really doesn’t make a difference.
In my darkest moments, I worry that the dull, frequent pain I feel at the point of impact on my head will lead to further damage later in life. In my strongest moments, I feel so incredibly lucky. It could have been worse. A lot worse.
3. We hiked and camped in Havasu Falls
The accident makes some things a bit more difficult than others. Hiking the 10 miles through the Grand Canyon to Havasu Falls just two and a half weeks after my accident was a real physical challenge.
The views were worth it. This was the first trip since the accident and it made me realize that my body is not, and may never be, as strong as it used to be. Even if that’s the case, I was incredibly proud of myself to have made the 10-mile hike with a full pack. For these reasons and more, Havasu Falls has a very special place in my heart.
4. We road tripped to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
I remembered the Sequoia trees from when I visited California with my family as a kid, but I had such a greater appreciation for them when we visited Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park on a weekend road trip.
These gigantic, towering Sequoia trees and the picturesque landscape in Kings Canyon made me want to pinch myself. It was one of those weekends that made me feel really fortunate to be living in beautiful California.
5. I sipped wine in Lodi wine country
My interest in wine was just beginning to bud from being a lush who would drink any wine to someone interested in really learning about what I was drinking when I was invited to explore Lodi, California with Visit Lodi. What’s not to like about being wined and dined in beautiful wine country?
6. Then I landed a new job in the wine industry
Little did I know when I visited Lodi that I would end up working in the wine industry! Yes, I spend most of my time these days working at Wine Access in as a social media manager. My blogging and social media influencer experience have helped me be better at this job, and this job has helped me be a better blogger and influencer — though I spend a lot less time on my blog these days!
7. We went to China for the first time
I had a short list of international destinations I wanted to tackle in 2017 — China was not on the list for this year. But when Opportunity comes knocking, you have to answer the door!
So Michael and I embarked on our first international trip together and his first trip to Asia. Beijing is a vibrant city with so much to see and do that we had an action-packed trip. It was a really amazing experience to have together.
You can check out our Beijing and Xi’an travel video here:
8. We hiked to Clouds Rest in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park was more breathtaking in real life than I ever imagined, especially from the viewpoint at the end of the Clouds Rest hike. The 14.5 miles was strenuous for me, but the view of Half Dome was absolutely stunning. At almost 10,000 feet of elevation, we were so high up that it felt like we could just be blown away by a gust of wind. It was the first time heights spooked me on a hike, but we were safe and so happy we completed this hike.
We went on a few different hikes during this weekend camping trip in which I got up close and personal with Yosemite for the first time. I can’t wait to go back and see more!
9. We went on a weekend getaway to San Diego & LA
One of the best perks of living in San Francisco is being able to snag cheap flights to other cool cities in California. We rented a car and drove from LA to San Diego where we stayed with friends and did a little sightseeing. The sunny, warm weather was such a nice change from foggy San Francisco. Our weekend getaway was more of a party with friends than a vacation, but I’m hoping it’s the first of many trips I make to Southern California in the near future.
10. We saw unearthly landscapes in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park only got on my radar after researching new camping destinations we hadn’t been to. It turned out to be an incredible camping trip in such a beautiful place.
Lassen is one of the few places that has all four different types of volcanoes in the same area. This made for Mars-like landscapes, rainbow-colored hills, stinky thermal pools, and expansive views. We couldn’t believe we’d never heard of it before!
11. I skied for the first time in Lake Tahoe
I joined ski club when I was 12 and was terrible at it. So terrible, in fact, that I didn’t get back on skis until now. I was determined to get back on the slopes at some point in life, and ski season in Lake Tahoe was the perfect opportunity. It turns out I actually can ski and could even make it down a few intermediate ski runs.
Overcoming this fear and worry in my mind has opened up a whole world for me. I never thought I’d want to take ski trips to Colorado or Canada, but now I look forward to getting on slopes all over the world!
12. I am an aunty to the cutest nephew
My brother and sister-in-law had a baby in September and I am so in love with my nephew. I can’t wait to watch him grow, tell him stories from my travels, and spark the wanderlust in him.
Pepper in a few bachelorette parties, weddings, visiting family in both Houston and Virginia, and that was my life in 2017.
Thinking back on this past year fills me with a lot of joy and happiness. Despite setbacks, I had a lot of firsts this year, and that makes me feel unstoppable. This year was a “normal” year of life by most accounts since I’m based in one place now, but still exciting enough for me to not regret my decision to stop traveling full-time.
I don’t blog as often as I used to. Mostly, this is because I don’t have as much time since I work full-time. When I’m home after work or on weekends, sometimes the last thing I want to do is sit at my computer for longer. I haven’t yet written about many of these 2017 trips. I want to change that in 2018. The last few blog posts I’ve written reminded me of how much I love to tell stories, and I plan to keep this momentum going.
2017 in a nutshell? Beautiful destinations both near and far, some friends and family, a little bit of me, and a lot of we — I wouldn’t have it any other way.