This year has easily been our most prolific travel year since Angela and I married adventure and each other nearly a decade ago. In 2017 we saw four continents, nine U.S. states, twelve countries and territories, and I got to dip my toes in seven major bodies of water, including the Nile River!
We also started writing about all of it.
So, a big, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has followed along and put up with my long-winded musings for the duration. I can’t promise that I will arrive at the point more expeditiously in the future, but I will try my best.
And, to that end, here is a chronological review of our travels in 2017, along with our favorite photos. And a video I couldn’t resist including.
We landed in Dublin and saw the eastern coast, then traveled to the Isle of Man and drove the length and breadth of the place. We hopped over to England and caught a train to Glasgow where we danced with locals until all hours. We flew into Belfast and made for Northern Ireland, meeting alderwomen and making friends along the way before circling back to Dublin and the flight home.
Ben came along for this one, and he quickly ranked Iceland as his favorite place on earth. We arrived early and slept in the rental car, waiting for our room to be ready. We battled the elements and stumbled upon waterfalls and breathtaking mountains around every bend along the southern coastal road. Tears of amazement froze on my face as the northern lights danced impossibly across the sky. We traveled the Golden Circle, ate expensive food, drank expensive beer, and loved every minute of it.
Angela started this journey alone, meeting up with a friend for a week in Bangkok. It was a girls’ trip that doubled as a work trip where Angela toured by day and blogged by night. She shopped at floating markets and the Chatuchak weekend market, took a Thai cooking class complete with a trip to the market to purchase Thai produce, and stood in silent awe of ancient temples and reclining Buddhas. She found the world’s best cheap spa and ate Pad Thai cooked over open flames in back alleys, under the cover of darkness.
Destination weddings are the best. Destination weddings at the beach with bushwackers are even better. We had a great time celebrating the nuptials of Kyle and LE Nuckolls and drinking during the Sunday morning church service at the Flora-Bama.
Angela is a bona fide Master Gardener and so is her mother. Every year they find a destination that will both inspire them and increase their knowledge of the gardening discipline. In June 2017 they journeyed to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, where Angela not only learned how to improve her green thumb but also tried her hand at macro photography, using some nifty new photo tools. The gardens were impeccable, the inclusive spa treatments were relaxing, and the time shared between mother and daughter was priceless.
Travel traditions are almost as important as exploring completely new destinations. Every year, my sons and I try to feed both of those needs through an annual guys’ dive trip. Having ventured to the Outer Banks, Ginnie Springs, and Pensacola in previous years, Ben and I had to dive without Zack for the first time in 2017 as the older son was stationed in Hawaii with the U.S. Army. Ben and I traveled to the Bahamas by ferry to dive with sharks and throw frisbee on deserted beaches.
Speaking of travel traditions, this was our fourth annual dive trip with my best friend, Steve, and his wife, AJ. After Steve moved away from Chattanooga, we vowed to keep in touch and see each other as often as possible. It’s what best friends do. So, every year we plan a destination dive trip that checks a location off the bucket list and puts us in a luxury villa where we eat and drink far too much, give each other hell, and laugh about the good times. In 2017 that place was Roatán, Honduras.
And with regard to best friends who move away, Angela’s friend, Leah, moved to Austin, Texas, earlier in the year. Austin had long been on our list of U.S. destinations to visit, and Angela thoroughly enjoyed her time in this most hipster of cities. It’s hard not to love time with dear friends, designer doughnuts, and a road trip to the realm of Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Angela can quote Agatha Christie chapter and verse, and Egypt has long reigned as her number one travel destination. It just so happened that this year she found a great travel deal allowing us to experience Cairo, Aswan, and a cruise down the Nile without breaking the bank. Ben got to come along as well, even for the sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings!
Sometimes the best road trips are just down the road. For my birthday this year, Angela took me on a tasting tour of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. She was on assignment for Chattanooga Magazine, and I was along for the delicious ride, made sweeter by the Titans box seats and Lebanese dinner we experienced in Nashville, courtesy of my awesome brother-in-law, Daniel, and his wife, Shea.
Sometimes airfare is just too affordable to pass up. And when Angela gets an alert that meets her criteria, we often find ourselves manipulating schedules and frantically counting vacation days to make it work. Such was the case with Turks and Caicos. On a particularly trying work day, Angela’s phone notified her of $355 round-trip tickets that coincided with Ben’s Thanksgiving break. We could even go diving! So she pulled the trigger, and we figured out the details later.
Chattanooga and Winchester, Tennessee (December)
It was admittedly odd to be home for the holidays after doing so much travel this year, but we needed some family time and a bit of rest. Angela enjoyed decorating the house for Christmas, I procrastinated raking the leaves, and we spent lazy hours editing photos and catching up on blog posts from previous years. And the fact that it’s so achingly beautiful here doesn’t hurt one bit.
Reflecting on such a dynamic travel year in 2017, we have been struggling to find a way to top it. Next year, after all, will mark my fiftieth birthday and our tenth wedding anniversary. What do you give a girl who has already given you everything you could ever want?
I’m thinking, the world.