With the end of the year rapidly approaching, it’s always a good time to look both backwards and forwards, reminiscing on the highlights of the past 12 months and building enthusiasm for what’s to come.
2017 was actually somewhat of a lackluster travel year for me. Between the crazy final few months of grad school, spending my summer doing an unpaid internship, starting a new job, and Pat going into his last year of dental school, time and finances were not on our side. We didn’t get out nearly as much as we’d hoped, so this post might more accurately be titled “summary of the few things Diana managed to do in 2017.”
1. Climbing Cathedral Ledge…in the winter!
Every winter, the UConn Outdoor Center hosts many student adventure trips, including ice climbing in New Hampshire. I’d been wanting to go on that particular trip for years, but cost was always an issue. However, this was my last year as a student, so Pat and I scrounged up the money and signed up for what turned out to be a challenging but very fun weekend in the White Mountains!
2. The Windy City
In April, for the third year in a row, I headed off to the annual Experimental Biology conference to present my research, surround myself with science, and do a bit of exploring. The conference this year was held in Chicago. I went in with very low expectations (my previous Chicago experiences were all related to travel delays and therefore terrible) but ended up really loving the Windy City!
3. Weekend in the Taconics
Memorial Day weekend wasn’t the best in terms of weather…not much sun, not too warm, a bit of rain. But we made the most of it and managed to thoroughly explore Taconic State Park, located in the Taconic Mountains which span the border between New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
4. Standing on top of New England
Arguably our biggest accomplishment of 2017 was summiting Mount Washington. Located in the White Mountains, Washington is the tallest peak in New Hampshire, New England, and – in fact – the entire northeast. The weather at the summit is notoriously awful, so we were treated to a heavy dose of fog, wind, and rain, and not a lot in the way of views. It took about 8 tries to snap the (not very good) handstand photo below because the wind kept blowing me off balance. But Pat, my mom, and I huffed and puffed our way up this monster of a mountain, and no one can ever take that away from us!
And on the 4 days we weren’t climbing the mountain, we managed to squeeze in quite a few shorter hikes in and around White Mountain National Forest.
5. Silliest destination of the year
While my Mom was still in New England, she and I took a couple days to do some local exploration, including visiting the Pez Factory in New Haven, Connecticut. It’s silly but fun, and we came home with 14 flavors of Pez candy, adorable Finding Nemo Pez dispensers, and far more Pez related knowledge than we ever thought we’d possess.
6. A glimpse of the past
For Christmas last year, Pat got us tickets to Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in southern Massachusetts. Our admission fee was good for 10 days, so we spent two Saturdays in a row immersing ourselves in 1800s life in rural New England. We rode a horse-drawn buggy, saw a large collection of very old clocks, watched demonstrations on musket firing and blacksmithing, and observed the inner workings of a grist milk, a carding mill, and a sawmill.
7. Kayaking in Rhode Island
Every summer, some of Pat’s extended family rent a house on the Rhode Island coast for a couple weeks, and we usually head over for a weekend. Rhode Island has much better beaches than Connecticut does, so it’s always a nice adventure. And this year, I went kayaking for the first time ever in the salt ponds at Charlestown Beach!
8. Exploring the Cape
We finished up our summer with Labor Day weekend out on Cape Cod, a place I’ve been wanting to go since I first moved to Connecticut. It rained a lot on one of our two full days there, but on the other we managed a few short hikes and even ended up having the Great Island Beach practically to ourselves!
9. Autumn in Appalachia
Finally, in late September we headed down to North Carolina for the wedding of one of my best friends. My aunt and uncle live about 90 minutes away from the wedding venue, so we were able to fly down a day early to squeeze in a day of hiking before the wedding. My uncle took us to Hanging Rock State Park, located on the northern border of North Carolina, and we spent the day hiking to waterfalls, a lake, and up to a high point.
Looking ahead to 2018, I’m extremely excited for our upcoming travels.
In February, one of my best friends is getting married in Costa Rica, so we’ll be jetting off for that in just two short months! I’ve never traveled outside of the US and Canada, so I’m excited to finally get a stamp in my passport. Plus, Costa Rica has been on my Ultimate Travel List for years. It’s the middle of the semester so we can’t be gone too long, but we have 1 day before and 2 days after the wedding to see what we can.
In May, we have tentative plans to head to Germany for a week or so to visit Pat’s brother and sister-in-law before they move out of the country. Depending on time and cost, Pat and I may try to sneak in a visit to another nearby country for a couple days before heading back to the US.
We also have tentative plans to hike a three day section of the Appalachian Trail with my uncle, so fingers crossed that the logistics of all these trips end up working out.
And finally, in late June we’ll be headed off to an as-yet-undetermined location. But not on vacation. We’ll be moving! Pat graduates in May and will begin a 1-year residency program in July. He’s interviewed at programs in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Denver, so now we cross our fingers and wait until the end of January when we find out where he’s been placed. No matter where we end up, I’m excited for our new home and whatever adventures come along with it.
In the meantime, we’re working on crossing off as many things as we can from our New England to-do list before we head west in six short months (I haven’t given up on climbing Katahdin!).
I hope you all had a wonderful 2017, and here’s to a Happy Holidays and a 2018 full of adventure!