With just one (wonderful) exotic adventure this year (Morocco), most of our travel in 2013 was focused around family and friends. I love exploring new places, but my favorite trips are those shared with people I love – even if that means re-visiting familiar places.
A too-short trip to Phoenix was also too-short of sunshine. However, it was perfect weather for catching up with family and friends while seeing a few sites, including cold cacti, desert scenery, an outdoor history museum, and native arts.
All Arizona posts
A long Easter break gave us time to experience a variety of what Morocco has to offer. With our own car and knowledgeable driver (Hamou rocks!) we were able to move beyond major cities to visit some very isolated rural areas. We have decided this is the best way to travel! Traveling this way allowed us to see so much, including:
Medieval medinas and markets where life is lived as it has been for centuries – Morocco is known for its ancient medinas – cities within cities – and bustling markets. I got to experience both and found each to be fascinating, chaotic, and inscrutable all at once.
Kasbahs and ksour – Fortified homes called kasbahs (similar in function to a European castle, but constructed of mud block) and groups of attached homes called ksour still punctuate the landscape in many parts of Morocco. I couldn’t get enough of them, even in the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs!
Intricate architectural details in riads, palaces, tombs, and more – It seems as if every surface in Morocco is either absolutely unadorned or completely decorated in the most elaborate manner possible with inlay, carving, painting, or a combination of all three. It was shocking (in a good way) to walk into a plain mud block or stucco building and suddenly find myself surrounded by some of the most beautiful and elaborate interiors in the world. Don’t forget to look up, as the ceilings may be the most amazing feature of the room.
A broad array of vast and rugged landscapes – In contrast to the intricate architecture and close quarters of the medinas, Morocco is vast and much of the country is barely inhabited. The scale of the landscape continually astounded me. Morocco’s supersized natural world is truly breathtaking.
I don’t have many Morocco posts up yet, but my Morocco page has links to my daily photo diary. Look for more stories and photos in the coming year.
The TBEX new media (travel blogger) conference was in Toronto this year. Dual registrations (yes, my husband registered this year too and even went to a few sessions) not only gave us access to the conference sessions and special tours, but free Toronto tourism passes enticed us to take in as much as we could of everything Toronto offers, including iconic landmarks, lovely and thought-provoking museums, Inuit art, skyscrapers, artsy historic neighborhoods, and a truly great skyline.
There was so much to do in Toronto that I still don’t have it all on the web, so there’s more to come.
Soon after returning home, family from Finland arrived. It’s always interesting to see our hometown through the eyes of tourists. While we couldn’t show them everything in a week, we tried to provide a good mix of art, architecture, gardens, baseball, and family.
Of course, we hope they will return to see more.
Check out all there is to do in Minnesota!
July: Lake Superior (Apostle Islands and the North Shore)
July began with a sailing trip in the Apostle Islands along Lake Superior’s south shore. The sailing and scenery were fine, but the friendship was even better. The weather was mostly warm and still, but there was plenty to keep us busy with beautiful boats, wilderness scenery, a historic fishing camp, and fireworks for the Fourth of July.
All Apostle Islands posts
Mid-month brought a family wedding in Duluth and an excuse to revisit some of the iconic sites along Lake Superior’s North Shore with my parents.
August: Minnesota and North Dakota
The heat of summer brought another wedding, this time in North Dakota. Since we have friends out this way and my husband has never spent any time there, we decided to make it a short western Minnesota/eastern North Dakota road trip. Besides visiting friends along the way, we made stops to take in a bit of history, culture, and nature in Fergus Falls, Fargo-Moorhead, and around Ransom County.
September: Leech Lake and Columbus
Thanks to the kindness of friends, we spent Labor Day weekend on the shores of Leech Lake in northern Minnesota as the hot days of summer suddenly turned cool.
A long-anticipated trip to visit friends brought us to Columbus, Ohio. We were greeted so warmly and treated so well, with good conversation, sightseeing, lots of great food, photography, and an evening dominos challenge. Columbus turned out to be an unexpectedly interesting destination, with plenty of things to see and do.
October: Seattle, Wisconsin, and Chicago
We had been invited to join my college roommate and her family along the coast of Cornwall in June, but I couldn’t fit it into my schedule. (My bosses are very forgiving of my extra time off, but there are limits.) We had hoped to get together during the summer, but that never happened either. Instead, we headed to their home in Seattle to catch-up and partake of a little west coast leaf peeping. Of course, we saw a lot more than leaves, as Seattle is filled with art, markets, historic buildings, and more.
An Inuit art conference in the Chicago areas seemed like a good reason to finally make a too long delayed road trip to the windy city.
We took the scenic route through rural Wisconsin in order to enjoy the last of the fall leaves and visit friends along the way. This was the first time I had been in Milwaukee in many, many years and it was a delight to see what the city is becoming.
The conference was interesting and I met a few people who I hope become long-time friends in the future.
My daily snapshots from Chicago have been posted, but the rest of the posts are still in progress. Stay tuned!
As I look back on this year I’m reminded of how important other people are to me and to my travels. We have met delightful people along the way, including Hamou, our fabulous driver and interpreter of all things Moroccan and the hosts (and their parrot) at the B & B in Fort Ransom. However, I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to spend time with family and distant friends when we travel. Traveling with or visiting people I care about not only provide an opportunity to get a glimpse of the world through their eyes, but is also a chance to get to know them on a different level.
I am very, very fortunate to have such wonderful friends and family.
Happy New Year, everyone!