I always get excited about writing this post, but then I sit down to write it and I’m like, well, where do I even start!? It’s only taken like a week on and off, but it’s finally here!
This year was a little different. It was the year of the US. I took advantage of my time here and explored all kinds of new parks along with returning to old favorites. While I did this in 2016, too, this time I was in the US the entire year. So, let’s get started!
Countries visited: 1
States Visited: 21 (including just driving through)
Cities visited: 46
Beds slept in: 35
Modes of transportation taken: 3
Flights taken: 0
Parks visited (state parks, national parks, monuments, recreation areas): 24
Not too bad, right? Everything is lower than last year except for states visited. I definitely didn’t do as much hiking this year. Wyoming was cold and snowy, which isn’t my favorite, and Utah, I don’t really know. Once July hit, I just didn’t feel like it. I started painting then, and did lots of reading. I would still go occasionally, but I did a lot more the year before and would like to a lot more this year.
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I started the year out in good ol’ Wyoming. I was working at a snowmobile lodge about an hour from Jackson. I was able to go snowshoeing a couple times, once just behind the lodge and the other at Flagg Ranch by Yellowstone. I spent a lot of time in Grand Teton National Park looking for wildlife and just as much time in Jackson drinking delicious, expensive juice.
I got snowed in on the mountain, saw a wolf closer than I ever imagined, stayed in a luxury resort more than once, watched four baby bison wander through Gros Ventre, and saw more Moose than I ever thought I would.
It may have been freezing and there may have been six feet of snow on the ground, but it was a good winter and I’m glad I was able to spend a few months living there. I can’t say I’m in a huge rush to go back, because I prefer warm weather, but I can’t say I would never consider it. I loved having a regular view of the Tetons, my favorite mountain range.
I spent the summer out in Utah again. I was back in Bullfrog and ready for some adventures. In the first couple months, we went to parks pretty much every weekend. We went to Arches, which was way too busy, the Needles district of Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon to hike Navajo Loop, Zion to hike the Narrows (finally), Capitol Reef to hike Sulphur Creek, Mesa Verde to check out cliff dwellings, Black Canyon of the Gunnison to go into the canyon and Great Basin to see alpine lakes and bristlecone trees.
It was a busy first couple of months, and then after Great Basin, I didn’t see much. We went to Boulder, Utah a couple times via the Burr Trail and went to Capitol Reef a couple more times and I finally got to pick fruit in the orchards there.
I also made it to Monument Valley, finally, at the end of the summer when my parents came out to visit. Of course in the meantime, there was a lot of time spent just hanging out on Burr Trail closer to Bullfrog. I got to see one of the main washes flood during a crazy storm, which was really exciting, mostly because I wasn’t in it.
We took a boat out a couple of times and went to see Cathedral in the Desert again. The water was much higher, so it was a lot easier to get back into it. We went a little north another day and were able to go back pretty far with the boat into Smith Fork, too. A lot farther back than last year. We did get to walk back a bit last year, but it was cool being able to go back by boat. It was a good summer and I got to see all kinds of cool park stuff. I’m ready to go back and see even more!
We decided to take a couple months of the winter off and spent a few of them in Florida. It was a laid back couple of months, but we took a couple little trips to St. Augustine, Cedar Key and the Lower Suwanee Wildlife Preserve, and Paynes Prairie State Park.
We also took a ten-day trip around the Southeast going to Congaree National Park in South Carolina before spending a few days in Asheville, North Carolina. After that, we spent a few days in Gatlinburg as a base to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I really enjoyed this trip. It was my first real trip in the southeast and I got to see so much! I saw three bears in Cades Cove, a million restaurants with pancake or flapjack in the title in Gatlinburg, and I got to taste mint honey in Asheville! It’s delicious in case you were wondering.
And finally, we’ve spent about a month in Wisconsin. In the spring we came home between jobs. We’ve been alternating between Wisconsin and Florida and it was Wisconsin’s turn. On our way there and back out to Utah we stopped at the Badlands National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Wind Cave National Park.
We’re also here now for the holidays before going back out to Utah again. Both times here have been pretty relaxed and low key. We haven’t done a whole lot here this time, mostly because it’s absolutely freezing. We would like to see some state parks before we go and do some hiking in the area, it just has to warm up a tiny bit first.
Overall it’s been a pretty awesome year. I saw seven bears, even one by the Interstate in Utah, started writing on a regular basis, saw so many cool parks and things, got a new car, and got to live near Jackson Hole for a few months, which is awesome.
I can only hope I’ll get to do even more in 2018 to make it a better year than ever. There’s a lot I want to do, so stay tuned for my 2018 goals post to see what I have in mind!