My 2018 Adventures
It was only a couple years ago that I resolved to start traveling more. At the time, I was working as a journalist at a daily paper, and making time for international travel was extremely difficult. That's hard for someone who has always had a case of wanderlust. In less than a decade, I've lived in 5 different states (sometimes briefly), spanning both coasts. My weekends often are spent taking long road trips and extended backpacking treks. I use any excuse to get all my friends together for a camping trip or to visit to a new city. And I have no problem taking a trip solo—it's an exciting endeavor all its own.
So where did 2018 take me? And what were my favorite highlights? Here's a quick recap:
The year began with a two-week trip to Thailand in February. This trip was much needed for so many reasons. After losing two of my grandparents over the winter and weathering a streak of bad luck, I decided to create some good in my life. I booked my ticket at the end of December, spent minimal time planning and completely winged the entire trip. I found that this go-with-the-flow travel style actually really suits me (who knew!), and I made some of my best memories of 2018 in the Land of Smiles. One of my Thai highlights had to be meeting Aree, my AirBNB host in Bangkok who, despite speaking little English, became one of my best friends on the trip. She taught me how to meditate and introduced me to her friends' restaurants. I never would have met her had I planned this trip on a strict schedule or done it with a friend. I couldn't be more grateful for the craziness of this trip. Within Thailand, I visited Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, two Thai national parks and several Thai Islands.
This trip was another unplanned adventure. I booked my ticket two weeks after returning from Thailand after finding a fantastic price on airfare. I spent about two weeks in France, exploring the French countryside, Bordeaux and Paris. My favorite memory? Attending an open-mic night at a quaint bar in Bergerac, France. That night, I was introduced to a young girl, Marion Fouré, who regularly performs all over the country. We talked for a bit, but, given my French is rusty, we kept our conversation to a minimum. Instead, I watched her perform. She had been performing most of this night and had a beautiful voice. At one point, I was enjoying a drink outside the bar with a couple friends when two of Marion's friends beckoned me inside. I soon realized why—Marion was singing Vance Joy's Riptide (in English!). Everyone at the bar—most of whom didn't speak conversational English—broke out in song. I joined, dancing with friends, drunk on mojitos and beer. It was such a simple moment, but one I'll always remember from that trip.
I didn't backpack as much this past summer as I normally do (largely because I was traveling elsewhere), but I did manage to camp at a several great spots in Oregon—Rosary Lakes, East Lake and Camp Sherman. These weren't the several-day adventures I typically do, but they were beautiful nonetheless. I swam in aqua pools, hung my hammock under star-speckled skies and shot gunned Tecate (cuz I'm a lady). These nights are the reason I moved to Oregon. I couldn't be more grateful to live in such a beautiful place.
Crater Lake holds a special place in my heart. It's the first national park I visited upon moving to the Pacific Northwest. An Ohio native, I was blown away when I first laid eyes on the top of the crater. Naturally, I've returned several times since to camp near its crater rim, including in mid October. The views of the blue water never cease to amaze me.
Dallas, Seattle, Washington D.C.
I took three work trips in 2018, one of which took me to a city I'd never been before (Dallas). My favorite? Seattle, by far. Even if it's only a short drive north, I absolutely adore this city. I found a fantastic gym to train at while there and fell in love with a juice place that I hear is making moves in Portland soon. Oh, and I returned with several shrimp steaks from Pike Place Market. I couldn't come back empty handed!
My mom will be happy I included this one on the list. Sometimes my flights home to Ohio cost more than my international flights (cringe), but they are always worth it. I love where I'm from and am grateful for the opportunity to visit as often as I can.
I rounded out the year with a coastal road trip that, true to fashion, was a bit unplanned. I drove down I-5, took a couple slight detours through San Francisco and the Oregon coast, and made it to Los Angeles after two, 10-hour days. After a couple days in LA, I then made my way back up the coast, stopping briefly at Big Sur, Sequoia National Park and Mount Shasta. It was a beautiful, calming, adventurous way to end 2018.
So what's on the docket for 2019? I'm considering visits to Mexico City, Bali, Vietnam and Japan, though I'm totally open to those plans changing. I'd also like to crush a couple technical mountain climbs and explore some backcountry trails outside of the Northwest. My main goal, though, is to travel to as many or more new countries in the new year. Cheers to adventure!