It’s that time again, when it seems reasonable to take a look back at the past year before leaping into the next.
In that spirit, here is a recap of my 2015 travels.
Vietnam and Laos
Our big trip of the year was the month we spent in Vietnam and Laos late in the fall.
In Vietnam we drove through the countryside; cruised on bays and lakes and rivers of all sizes; and visited cities large and small, historic sites, temples, markets, and more.
The best part of the trip was the week we spent traveling through the terraced mountains and small villages that are home to many of the country’s ethnic minorities.
Vietnam surprised and delighted me in ways I hadn’t expected. I’d like to go back someday.
We only spent about a week in Laos, traveling to Luang Prabang, the Plain of Jars, Vang Vieng, and Vientiane.
Most of our time in Laos felt too rushed, but we did get a nice introduction to the north of the country.
Thunder Bay, Canada
Ok, we were only in Canada for one night when we couldn’t find a reasonably priced place to stay in northern Minnesota. But while we were there we ate at Hoito and visited Kakabeka Falls, so we hit a couple of classic stops during our short visit.
Since I couldn’t remember anything at all about Thunder Bay since my last visit (around 1985), it seemed like it was time to return, even if only for a day.
The US Virgin Islands
While most of the Caribbean falls into the category “international travel,” the tropical islands of the US Virgin Islands are a domestic paradise for those of us in the USA. We’d never traveled to this part of the Caribbean before, so we were absolutely delighted to be invited to join friends at their place on St. Thomas last spring. We spent a week on with our friends relaxing on lovely Cowpet Beach, eating BBQ, touring the islands of St. Thomas and St. John, and helping with a bit of kitchen demo.
We’d never been to this part of the Caribbean before and absolutely loved it. Now we are hoping for a return visit to see the newly remodeled kitchen, although we are always available for more demolition!
Around the USA
For whatever reason, we didn’t get around to escaping the winter cold last year. Instead we waited until spring to wander beyond Minnesota in search of warm weather and fields of wildflowers in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Then we mostly stayed put again for the summer before heading out to the coasts for vacations in New York City (over Labor Day) and California (over Christmas).
Arizona and New Mexico
As has been the case more often than not, we headed down to Arizona to visit family and friends (and see wildflowers) as winter came to an end in Minnesota. This year we expanded our travel to include family and friends (and deserts, rocks, and ruins) in New Mexico as well.
Our trip was perfectly timed to hit warm weather and the peak of the wildflower season in central Arizona. On the other hand, it was still EARLY spring in New Mexico where the deserts and mountains were chilly, but still beautiful and amazing. We need to plan a slightly warmer weather trip to New Mexico. . . or just get there more often!
Since we were going to be in Miami anyway in order to change planes on our way to the Caribbean, we decided to spend a couple of days in the sunshine state. We spent a bit of time in Miami and one day each in the Keys and the Everglades.
Florida never used to be high on our travel list, so it is only now that we are realizing the state isn’t all Orlando, retirement communities, and spring break. Now that we have a better feel for the state, it’s becoming one of my favorites!
Texas Hill Country
A college friend invited us to stay at her ranch during flower season in Texas Hill Country. As things sometimes happen, by the time we got there, she was back in North Dakota for a family emergency. While her absence reduced the amount of time we spent at the ranch, we had plenty of time to fall in love with Hill Country. We’ll be back.
We made two quick trips to Bayfield this year. One was a sailboat maintenance trip where I spent most of my time searching out spring flowers while my husband helped with the boat.
The other visit was really brief, as we left almost immediately to sail across Lake Superior to Grand Marais.
New York City
A wedding celebration was our excuse for a week in New York City over Labor Day. We purchased New York passes and used those as our guide to the city.
Despite too hot weather and a partial shutdown of the subway system (for maintenance over the holiday), we saw a lot. The passes worked perfectly, in that they encouraged us to do a bunch of things we would not have done otherwise. Next time though we will build in more time just to walk and absorb the city.
Fargo, North Dakota
(Yes, there is an art scene in Fargo.)
As the year came to an end, my husband was a bit short of frequent flier miles. I sent him on a quick trip to Vancouver to check out the Northwest coast art, but that wasn’t quite enough, so we headed off to California over Christmas to do some touring and visit friends. We spent our time catching up with friends, touring Orange County (our first visit there), and checking out the beaches and missions along Highways 1 and 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
We didn’t get to visit all of our friends or spend time at all of the beaches and missions, so I guess we’ll have to put a return trip on our schedule.
At home in Minnesota
While we did occasionally leave the house, we didn’t exactly take advantage of the opportunity to get out and explore Minnesota during the winter. However, we made up for that once the weather turned warm, with multiple trips to the North Shore (including a photo class and a sailing trip), Grand Rapids, and central Minnesota. We also made a point of getting out to explore more of our home in the Twin Cities Metro area.
So that’s my 2015 in travel.
More to come in the year ahead!
Happy New Year!