Mr. UR and I, along with friends, made a return trip to The Crescent City for a weekend in February. It's one of my all-time favorite destinations and I would go back anytime. We were there for the start of Mardi Gras and I experienced my first ever Mardi Gras parade - the nightime Krewe de Vieux parade with it's politically incorrect and saucy view of the world.We also ate dinner on an ironwork balcony on Bourbon Street where we also saw a wedding parade, took an interesting walking tour of The French Quarter, visited the also interesting Mardi Gras World float making factory, devoured King Cake Beignets - which is one of the best desserts I've had to this day - and saw the early morning street sweepers doing their job on Bourbon - a thankless but necessary job I'm sure. We stayed at an Airbnb and made use of public transportation - buses, ubers and streetcars.
Kids grow up and start experiencing their own adventures. Our youngest daughter moved to Seoul a year ago October to teach English. She had spent 6 months here studying abroad when she was in college.And it was such a good time that she decided to move back. Neither I, nor the mister, had been before. A mere 14 hour flight - and Mr. UR's first time to Asia - and we were there seeing her everyday world. We spent 5 days in Seoul seeing parks, the Korean War Museum, palaces, different neighborhoods and even a dog cafe. Then we moved off the southern coast to Jeju Island where we saw a Mongolian Horse Show, enjoyed the famous black pork barbecue, had beers at the Korean offshoot of Brooklyn Brewery and visited my favorite, the Korean Stone Park. Such an interesting country with warm people. I'm only disappointed that we didn't plan our trip to work around the Olympics - I'll get there someday!
My mother-in-law grew up on Long Island and we'd been before but never really explored in depth.Continuing on with the theme of chasing our kids around the globe, this time we were visiting our oldest daughter.We hit up the wineries of the North Fork - one of my favorite new places - the cute little surfing town of Montauk, some grand old houses and gardens and we took a stroll on a windswept day on Howard Beach - where my mother-in-law beached back in the day.
We took a two week drive through Oregon in an RV in June - and oh my, what an incredibly beautiful state! We started in Portland - where I tried VooDoo doughnuts for the first time - worked our way down the coast, saw lots of snow at Crater Lake National Park, completed the Bend Ale Trail, drove the Columbia River Gorge and visited some delightful Willamette Valley Wineries. Along the way we camped at oceanfront parks, state parks where the Oregon Trail followers crossed the river and boondocked in a marina parking lot. We had ash fall on us from a controlled fire and we stayed at one of the most unique hotels I've ever stayed at - of course, there will be more on that later. What a trip! And there is so much more of scenic Oregon that we didn't see. Next time, my friends, next time!
Colorado and Utah
Now it was time to visit our oldest in Colorado. Each year, since he moved there, we've been able to take a few days together and explore a different area of the state. This time we drove west to Grand Junction where we visited wineries, floated the Colorado River, rented a boat on Lake Dillon, saw the Aspen 4th of July parade,ironically drove through Independence Pass on Independence Day, spent a day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - wow, just wow - and made a day trip to Moab and Arches National Park. That's an incredible amount to pack in for just one long weekend! Colorado -and Utah - has such a bounty of treasure it almost seems unfair to all the other states. Almost.
Pawhuska, Oklahoma? Why Pawhuska? Why Oklahoma? I visited Pawhuska on a very quick- and long- road trip to visit the town where the TV personality, Ree Drummond, lives and runs a restaurant. She has a blog, a recipe website, and owns her own restaurant, store and bakery in Pawhusaka called The Merc. Next up she's opening a hotel next to The Merc. She's injected oodles of tourism and economic development to her town. And for the record, we waited in line for 2 hours to eat there - she apparently receives 6000 visitors per day at her establishment so we weren't the only ones to travel to Pawhuska this year.
In August - about a month before Hurricane Maria demolished the island - we flew down to Puerto Rico to visit Mr. UR's college roommate. Our oldest daughter, and a friend, met us there. We spent a few days in San Juan sightseeing and beaching it - we brunched in Condado, were tourists in Old San Juan, traveled through the rainforest at El Junque, ate Mofongo in Luquillo and night kayaked the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo. Then if was time for some beach relaxation in Rincon - and a little waterfall swimming, mountain view dining and market night walking.
Unfortunately, the rest of the story is about Hurricane Maria. She wasn't kind to the island, to say the least, and most are still without power and water. I believe schools are up and running in most of the urban areas - but only for half-days as powerless school isn't easy. Our friend has been busy organizing aid for mosquito netting to prevent malaria, battery operated fans and now a toy drive for Christmas as it will be a bit more than bleak this year. He has already received over 2000 toys and is spearheading the effort to distribute them. Please keep the people here in your prayers - and if it fits your pocketbook, please consider donating.
Christmas in New York City
We - Mr. UR, our oldest daughter, our son, his girlfriend and her sister - spent Christmas in a cabin in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and then we spent the few days after Christmas in New York City. I've been to New York several times but never at Christmas - and I have to say it was pretty magical. And cold. Very cold. But we still managed to visit Top of the Rock, saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, fought the incredible crowds at the Saks 5th Avenue Light Extravaganza, ate dinner at an Irish pub, saw the Macy's windows, visited Bryant Park's Christmas Market, visited The Strand Bookstore, enjoyed crazy shakes - Oreo Cookie and Brooklyn Brownstone - at The Black Tap, walked around NYU and had cookie dough at Do. Whew. Then the cherry on top of the whole visit was my son's proposal to his girlfriend in Central Park. And it was 14 degrees. What a memorable Christmas. Loved it. Every minute.
Lake life update We're not full-time travelers so in between all of these trips we have daily lives. Regular jobs - for some of us - and time spent with friends and family, on our little cove of the lake we live on, take up the rest of our time. Some of the springtime was spent getting our house ready for sale. When Hurricane Irma came through this past summer, the powers that be lowered our lake by several feet which left us waterless at our dock. A dock mired in mud isn't so enticing for those who want to live on a lake. So hopefully the lake level will be back up in the spring and we'll - fingers crossed - be thinking of selling again.
Thank you for all of your support this year! How about you? What were some of your highlights from 2017?
Linking up with: The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party and The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond!