I love anniversaries.
This post marks six years since I traded my beautiful life in Brooklyn for an endless road of boarding passes, baggage claims, and big blogging dreams. I still pinch myself over how it’s all turned out.
What an amazing reminder to pause and soak up the fact that looking beyond the day-to-day drama I try to laugh at, the disappointments I can’t control, and the compromises and the sacrifices I make, I am truly living the big, bold, wild, untraditional life that I hoped and dreamed so desperately for when I was growing up in the suburbs of Upstate New York. (Even if back then, I didn’t really know what the heck that meant or looked like.)
When I sit back and look at it all I think damn, I built this life! And it makes me feel like there’s nothing I can’t do.
As always, I am filled with gratitude for this annual exercise of nostalgia and number crunching. This month, I’ll be highlighting my year in travel, blogging, and beyond. Want to catch up on the back story? Find previous annual roundups here, here, here, here, and here. Let’s start with the best part — my year in travel.
My Year in Travels
1. Party in the USA
I kicked off my sixth year of travel with two weeks in California, where I visited a high school bestie in San Francisco and my dad in Los Angeles. After, I flew back to New York for three weeks of glorious home-state time hopping between Manhattan, Brooklyn and Albany, with a festival camping trip in Port Leyden to round out the fun.
Yup, this was it — the week that I really truly fell in love with Canada. A year prior I hadn’t really totally known that Manitoba existed (don’t judge, smug Northern geography buffs!), yet here I was, frolicking through Winnipeg and snorkeling with beluga whales in Churchill and bursting into off-key renditions of “Oh, Canada!” whenever the spirit moved me. Guys, I saw polar bears!
I admit that I really didn’t get my neighbor to the north prior to this trip. I was like, yeah, they might have a hot prime minister but it’s cold up there so no thanks! Manitoba convinced me Canada is irresistible, even for a die-hard beach bum like myself.
3. Back To The States
Following my return from my first trip to Canada, it was more Albany, a quick Boston detour to see my sister, a week visiting family in Decatur and Chicago, and finally, two chilled-out weeks regathering my sanity in Martha’s Vineyard.
I had not been back to Illinois since college — since before I started this blog! — so this was an important and long overdue trip.
How lucky was I to return to Canada again a mere month later! This time, I was visiting Ian’s family in Newfoundland. I’ve yet to write about our dreamy time in St. John’s and Trinity Bay, but — wow. I very uncharacteristically did zero planning for or research of this trip ahead of time, and thus was surprised and delighted by every twist and turn. Having someone else plan a trip for me is one of my greatest luxuries, and so I truly felt spoiled here.
Sadly the trip was cut short by a last-minute video hosting opportunity that popped up when I was in Martha’s Vineyard, detouring me back through New York for a chaotic forty-eight hour whirlwind of flights and a thirteen hour day of shooting. I thus arrived in St. John’s in the midst of my annual borderline mental breakdown over work — which means there’s a lot of not sleeping, crying at my laptop, and frantically letting my thoughts run down dark roads of doom. Oops. Suffice it to say that I have yet to be nominated for a Girlfriend of the Year award!
From St. John’s, we took advantage of the affordable fares and short flight time to hop over to London for two weeks of quality time in the United Kingdom. The trip was mostly centered around visiting some fabulous friends in London, Bristol, Bath, and Liverpool, but Ian and I also made a side trip to Brighton for some precious time alone after a hectic summer of visiting each other’s family and friends.
While I’ve been to England numerous times, this was the first time I ventured outside London and Manchester and really “did tourism.” It was, no surprise, an expensive and busy trip, but we really treasured it — I can’t wait to write more about it soon!
A new country — Wales! We were grateful guests of two of our Koh Tao best friends, Brian and Amy, when we retreated to her family cabin on the coast of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. Yup, that’s the actual name. It was a quick weekend away, but I loved every second of this glance into the childhood of one of my fellow island entrepreneurs.
7. Back To The Nifty Fifty
After a brief breath-catching stops in upstate and downstate New York, I was back on the grind, visiting my aunts in and attending the inaugural Universal Blog Squad Retreat in Florida, and popping over to California to meet Ian for his far-too-brief birthday weekend in Los Angeles. That was followed by his birthday present, a trip to the niftiest fifty of all.
Perhaps going back to Hawaii again wasn’t the most prudent decision I’ve ever made. After all, I’ve been twice before and spent months there, and we were weighing up other destinations neither of us had visited before. But Hawaii has always been a place that defies logic for me, and my latest three magical weeks there were, true to tradition, a highlight of my year.
We kicked off with a full Hawaii resort vacation on the west coast of Oahu followed by a weekend in Waikiki. Next, we hopped islands to take a vintage campervan for a spin around East Maui followed by a chilled out week in Paia. Finally, I returned to Oahu solo to spend a bit more quality time with my friend Wim and her beautiful family. I love Hawaii so much my heart hurts as I write this — I’m already pumped about the posts I’m finally going to write from this trip.
On the way back to the mainland, I paused in Los Angeles again to celebrate Halloween in style with my dad and my dog. This is one of my favorite holidays, and I found that Angelenos take it as seriously as I do! I can’t wait to come back to celebrate again in my new West Coast Wanderland HQ.
This was a last-minute surprise! When I was invited to preview the Caribbean’s first overwater bungalows, I had to decline due to a conflict with another project — a project that I was starting to dread due to