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2018 Wayfaring Views Year in Review

Travel is a privilege. Doing it requires time, money, persistence, curiosity and a certain spirit of adventure. I’m fortunate to possess all of those things and I deployed them in 2018 to make it my best travel year yet.

Iceland Svinafellsjokull Glacier Hike while doing solo travel in Iceland

My year in review needs to start with some gratitude. I’m grateful to you, dear reader for reading this website. Otherwise, I’d just be yelling into the void and my ego is simply too large for that. My intent with Wayfaring Views is to help you find unusual, offbeat (and sometimes just plain weird) spots and then inspire you to go there. I also want to help you get there by giving you insanely practical advice. I intent to carry that ethic into 2019 and hope that you will let me know if you need something more (or different) than what I’m providing.

I’m also grateful for my husband, Ken. He is a great travel companion—-by that I mean that he’s so easy going that I always get to do what I want on our trips. And if he doesn’t want to go on one of my niche adventures (like Iceland during cold weather), he kindly holds down the home front, walking the dog, bringing in the mail and eating Chinese take-out.

Paris Musee D'Orsee with Wayfaring Views Carol and Ken

This is Ken. His fave spot this year was Paris. You can just see the Louvre in the background.

What Did I Get Up to in 2018?

A lot! Ultimately.

I began the year with a total lack of focus regarding my travel priorities. Part of that was driven by my realization that I needed to be more focused about the content on Wayfaring Views. The other was simply an overwhelming feeling that the world is large and the clock is ticking. I turned 55 this year and with that, came the realization that my years as an able-bodied, energetic traveler are numbered and I better start prioritizing.

So, I made my first bucket list. I’ve committed myself to having 60 specific travel experiences by the time I’m 60. You can read the full list here. It includes a collection of topics that pay off the Wayfaring Views value proposition while also promising me some pretty rockin’ adventures. I’m committed to seeing great street art cities, working my way through a list of UNESCO Cities of Literature, chasing down endangered species, exploring epic landscapes, visiting the remaining US states and territories, seeing some epic man-made wonders and seeking out kooky travel experiences. I managed ten of them in 2018.

The Wayfaring Views Value Proposition: Helping you explore beyond the obvious with alternative itineraries and offbeat adventures.

Las Vegas Sahara sign from Neon Museum

During this kooky adventure I visited the Neon sign boneyard in downtown Las Vegas.

January: Snow & Zombies

January was spent visiting friends and family in Salt Lake City. We got in some quality time and a few fun ski days at the Salt Lake resorts, despite the low snow level. I also took on the massive burden of checking out all of SLC’s new micro breweries. It was as exhausting as you might imagine and I still haven’t dropped the weight that I gained from drinking so much beer. But it was all in service for you, dear reader. You’re welcome.

I also drove home the long way from Salt Lake in order to research all of the kitschy things to do in downtown Las Vegas. Hint: it involves extra large donuts, a neon graveyard, Vegas’ first cocktail bar, zombies and a cabinet of curiosities.

In January, I also committed myself to supporting Take FLYTE. This nonprofit organization helps send kids from under-served communities on their first educational trip abroad. I was fortunate to have a Mom who supported my travel habit by sending me on two educational trips. So I’m paying it forward by supporting FLYTE with my own cash and encouraging you to do the same.

Jenner Beach Walk with Dog part of things to do in Russian Rivery Valley

This is my dog Cocoa. She’s terrified to fly, but she likes local adventures like visiting the beach in Sonoma County.

February: Wine Tasting and Hanging Out

In February, I was hunkered down on the home front, working on my philanthropy consulting. However, Ken and I did manage a delightful dog-friendly weekend getaway to Sonoma county where we drank wine, hiked and hung out.

Ice Cave Tour on Solo Travel to Iceland

Because THIS is why I wanted to go to Iceland in the winter.

March: Ice Caves and Penis Museums

I hit my first few 60×60 goals in March with a trip to Iceland. It was a new country for me and I definitely want to return for more of that landscape. Reykjavik is a City of Literature and also has an emerging street art scene. If that’s not enough for you, Reykjavik also has a museum devoted to mammal penises and a punk rock museum located in a public toilet. They have some weird ideas in Reykjavik and I loved it! While in Iceland, I fulfilled a winter wonderland bucket list item by going ice caving and snorkeling. Tourism there is really exploding so if you want to go…go soon.

Sunset in Anza Borrego

I had a panic attack as we inappropriately drive the RV down a dry stream bed to this low-key camp spot in Anza Borrego. The sunset was worth it.

April: Van Life and Sunsets

I sampled the RV life in April. My friend Lynette and her partner Pete are at a transition point in their lives and have gone semi-nomadic. We wanted to try that on for size, so we rented a small RV and hit the road down highway 395 in the Eastern Sierras of California. I’m not sure that the RV life is for me, but I always enjoy traveling with Lynette and this trip came with two happy dogs, hot springs, spare desert landscapes and one of the most dramatic sunsets I’ve ever seen.

Pacific Coast Highway trip three friends, red Prius

Thelma, Louise and Imogen, rockin’ the Prius down the coastline, sans Brad Pitt.

May: Thelma and Louise

Lynette (from Salt Lake) is part of a crew of college girlfriends that have been an essential friends for over thirty years. Even though we’re spread across four cities, we get together pretty regularly for dinner dates and chickie weekend getaways. So when Stephanie (from Chicago) said that she wanted to do the classic Pacific Coast Highway drive, of course I said yes. She and I joined Heather (from the Bay Area) for a Thelma and Louise style road trip that included adorbs sea otters, killer coastal landscapes, glamping, hiking, porking out on danishes and a quirky tour of a gasoline museum. Sadly, Brad Pitt did not join use but gladly, we did not drive off a cliff.

Eiffel Tower Carousel

I just had to ride this carousel at the foot of the Eiffel.

June: Flaneuring and Sewers

After my mother died last year, I felt mortality tapping on my shoulder. So I asked Ken what one place would he regret not visiting (or visiting again). He said Paris and off we went. He had been as a nine year old, but that was when JFK was the President and things have changed a smidge since then. One highlight for both of us was seeing Monet’s water lily garden in Giverny, and then seeing how he re-imagined it through a series of massive water lily paintings at the Orangerie museum. I also chased down some pretty amazing Parisian street art and developed an alternative itinerary which includes flaneuring (urban strolling) a cemetery and the sewer museum. We also took a side trip to Luxembourg (because why not).

Tartu mural upside down Russian nesting doll

Estonia is shucking a Russian nesting doll of occupation and owning its own future.

July: Hipsters and Soviet Relics

In July, I left Ken to his own devices and his Chinese take-out and went off to Estonia and Bristol UK. I chose Bristol because I wanted to attend their huge annual Upfest street art festival. I sort of crashed a Visit Britain press trip (oops), but they were very kind to accommodate me and the folks from Visit Bristol really appreciated my enthusiasm for their street art. After reading my itinerary and street art articles, they told me I was their most favorite Influencer of the year (aw shucks).

I added Estonia onto the trip not only because they have an adorable UNESCO heritage old town in Tallinn, but because they have an emerging street art scene (60×60) and Tartu is a City of Literature (60×60). Tallinn surprised me with it’s hipster vibe and Soviet relics.

Nashville Looks Good on You Mural

Doesn’t Nashville look good on me?

August: Donuts and Selfies

I said hello to Nashville Tennessee in August, fulfilling my 60×60 goal for a new state. Ken was there for a conference, and I tagged along. This gave me plenty of time to check out their very Instagrammable murals (60×60), eat donuts and learn that Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson weren’t the same person. Becoming less of an idiot about history is not a 60×60 goal, but perhaps it should be.

I stretched myself by taking a ton of selfies against a backdrop of Nashville’s murals. Normally, I feel like a fool taking selfies, but the murals there demand it.

Greeting from Austin Texas Mural

Greetings from Austin, where the weather is hot and the queso lives on forever in your digestive system.

September: Networking & Queso

In September, I attended a travel conference in Austin. I wasn’t there on travel recon so didn’t write about my visit. However, they do have some fine street art there and I have dear friends who live there. My itinerary involved eating queso and hanging out.

Denver RiNo mural by Pichiavo with man figure and graffiti in blue and purple

This mural in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood completely surprised me with the graffiti overlaid with such a delicate image.

October-December: Cheerleaders and Doctors

I have an annoying, dreadfully boring, but not life threatening, medical condition which has been driving me mad by not responding to medication. So, I tried a new treatment (yea!), which requires thrice weekly visits to the Doctor’s office, effectively grounding me (rats!). Except for a quick family visit to Denver (where my grand niece won her state cheerleading championship…go wolves!), I haven’t traveled this quarter.

I’ve found that not only does my medical condition make me itchy, but this lack of sustained travel makes me itchy as well. I can’t wait for 2019 to begin so that I can hit the road again. On a side note, they do have some cool street art in Denver, I need to explore that more on my next visit.

RiNo Denver Colorado Color Me Lucky Mural

I am so lucky to be able to travel as much as I do.

What’s Up for 2019?

In short: Self proclaimed princes, more street art, more literary cities, whales and a good long walk.

In long: Watch this space because my 2019 is shaping up to be just as killer as 2018. In January, I’ve got another travel conference, this time in New York City. While there, I’m going to do a side trip to Connecticut to visit my nephew, who made a heartfelt promise to feed me meat (WTF?). I’m then going bag another state (60×60 goal) by taking the train down to Delaware. I heard in the Women Who Travel Facebook group that there’s a great bookstore in Rehobeth, which is reason enough to make the drive down-state.

Speaking of books, I’m joining several other travel bloggers to issue the Travel Reading List Challenge. It’s a book challenge designed for people who love travel, are curious about the world around them and who are always looking for their next great read. If that sounds like you, watch my Facebook page for an announcement in January. Or email me, and I’ll let you when the challenge goes live.

In February, Ken and I are off to Colombia to visit Proyecto Titi, a wildlife conservation organization which works to save the endangered Cotton Top Tamarin (60×60 wildlife goal). I’m still working up the itinerary, but it will definitely involve time in Cartagena and a visit to Bogota for street art (60×60 goal).

In March, we are joining fellow travel blogger Travels with Tam on a wildlife bucket list excursion to the Baja Peninsula. Have you seen those videos of whales that are so friendly that they come right up to the boats? Yep, we are going there. Plus snorkeling with whale sharks, which is (hopefully) less scary than it sounds.

In April, I’m going to tick off three more 60×60 items with a visit to southern and western Australia. We will be going to Melbourne (for street art and City of Literature), the Great Ocean Road (epic landscapes) and then I’m going to take a boondoggle to western Australia north of Perth where I’m going to visit the kooky micro-nation of the Principality of Hutt River. It’s a self-proclaimed independent nation with a prince and everything. Just the kind of oddball adventure that I’ve promised you.

In June, I’m going to back to the Camino de Santiago and hike another section of the Frances pilgrimage trail. I did ~330 miles of it in 2014 when I kicked off my life reset and booted up this exhausting energetic life of travel. I’m going back to do the bits of trail that I missed last time. Wish me luck.

Thanks again for following my adventures. Comment below if you have any great ideas for where I should travel to later in 2019.

Happy trails!

–Carol

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