How did this past year go by so fast – again.
As I reflect on 2021, both photographically and personally, I can say that I was fortunate to have had a good year. Yes, the continuing Covid pandemic had an impact, but I prefer to focus on all the positives instead.
My husband finally retired early at the beginning of the year which meant that my trip planning was no longer limited to his miniscule 4 weeks of annual vacation.
Once I and the rest of our family got vaccinated in spring, we could once again spend more time together, and I was finally able to give my kids and my 2 1/2 year old grandson 18 months of missed hugs and kisses. And late summer brought us a healthy grandson number 2.
Once vaccinated, I felt more comfortable travelling again, but the word for the year was flexibility. We postponed our summer tour to Ecuador for the third time, and instead, focused more on travel in the US, though I did keep the scheduled cruise and road trip in Greece.
So, as in past years, I am sharing some of my reflection photos and my thoughts related to my travels in 2021.
Wolf Sanctuary, Lititz, Pennsylvania – February
My hopes for celebrating a milestone birthday in a big way had to be set aside. Instead, I was happy to get away outdoors for a day trip to a wolf sanctuary in nearby Lititz. PA. The sanctuary takes in wolves and wolf-dog mixes that have been raised as pets and are no longer wanted by their owners.
Not a reflection photo, but seeing these wolves made me reflect on their plight.
Ocean City, New Jersey – May
My first big venture outside our home area after a year and a half was a beach rental for a week in Ocean City, NJ with our kids and our grandson. The change of scenery was wonderful, especially the long walks along the sea shore. But the best part was watching the innocent exuberance with which my grandson loved to play in the sand and surf.
A beautiful sunrise in Ocean City captured by my husband – because I do not get up that early when I don’t have to.
Chicago – June
I stopped in Chicago for a few days on the way to Alaska. I always love going back to the city where I grew up.
An evening walk along the Chicago lakeshore with the reflection of the lights of the iconic Chicago skyline.
A hanging spherical sculpture is reflected in a pool in the lobby of the John Hancock building in Chicago.
I always love watching the sun set over Lake Michigan.
Alaska – July and August
After not travelling for almost 18 months, I hit the road with a vengeance – literally. From the end of June through early August I did a five week bucket list road trip through a huge chunk of Alaska. I spent months planning all the moving pieces, and while there were a few hiccups, overall the trip went quite well.
The Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, Alaska has receded so much that you can now get close to the Nugget Falls.
Yes, the rental car had two flat tires which were a hassle to deal with in the middle of nowhere, but now makes for good stories. And yes, I had a reservation cancel on me last minute which required some scrambling to make alternate plans with less than ideal WIFI connectivity. And rainy weather got in the way of a scenic flight over the Gates of the Arctic National Park. But I also had so many extremely memorable experiences that happen only in Alaska, that these challenges are all but forgotten.
I was able to visit six of America’s most beautiful National Parks – four of which were totally new to me. I also finally got to visit Glacier Bay NP without a cruise ship and it was well worth the challenge of getting there.
A day cruise in Glacier Bay National Park took me to see the John’s Hopkins glacier.
I was also back in Denali National Park for a couple of days and this time I stayed at the end of the road in Kantishna, though once again, because of overcast and rainy weather, views of Denali itself eluded me.
As I travelled throughout Alaska, it was easy to see that the glaciers have been receding, but I certainly got my fill of seeing just a tiny fraction of Alaska’s 100,000 glaciers.
A cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park took me past some of its many tidal glaciers.
Cruises through Glacier Bay NP, Kenai Fjords National Park, Tracy Arm Fjord, Spencer Lake and time at the Mendenhall Glacier and in Wrangel-St. Elias National Park provided stunning views of many glaciers. As did the ferry ride from Juneau to Anchorage and the drives to Seward and Valdez.
Discovering Wrangell St. Elias National Park was worth all the effort that it took to get there.
Wildlife sightings were also a highlight. I never thought I would get blazé about seeing a bald eagle, but after seeing about 30 on a three hour rafting trip (in the rain) I have to say that seeing one lost some of its novelty.
Bear viewing was plentiful at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park
I did not get tired of seeing bears however, even after spending two days at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park. Nor did I get enough sightings of whales – I am still in search of the perfect breeching whale photo. And I thoroughly enjoyed the playful otter just a few yards from my kayak.
No-this was not me in the kayak – but it sure was a lovely setting at Valdez Glacier Lake.
I never tire of visiting Alaska and hope to get back there again sometime soon.
Greece – Sept
Running On Waves ship off the coast of Mykonos, Greece
The cruise took me to some of Greece’s iconic islands, including Mykonos and Santorini.
One of my favorite cruise stops was the island of Syros.
Before the cruise, I also explored the lovely little traffic free island of Hydra.
Triditional fishing boats still dock in the Kamini harbor on the island of Hydra, Greece.
A trip to Greece is not complete without a visit to Athens, and four days there let me discover its many historic and archeological treasures at a leisurely pace.
The rebuilt Stoa of Attalos in the Ancient Agora in Athens gives a good idea of what such buildings looked like a few thousand years ago.
The Acropolis Museum in Athens has many artifacts inside as well as an archeological dig underneath.
The Sithonia peninsula in Halkidiki Greece is known for its large quantity and diversity of beautiful beaches.
I also had the opportunity to spend two wonderful days at the Blue Bay Resort on the Kassandra Peninsula in the Halkidiki region of Greece.
Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, was a joy to explore. It has numerous UNESCO sites, a vibrant culinary culture and a great waterfront to watch the sunset.
The umbrella sculpture along the waterfront is a popular spot to see the sun set.
The small town of Veria in the Central Macedonia region of Greece is one of the first places where the apostle Paul preached and is also close to the historic tomb of Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great.
A beautiful memorial dedicated to the apostle Paul in Veria.
Maine – October
My husband and I love to take fall color leaf peeping trips. This year we decided to go up to Maine and Acadia National Park on a leisurely road trip through New England. It was a relaxing and scenic journey in which I (almost) got my fill of lobster rolls.
One of the many Maine lighthouses that I saw.
On Sand Beach in Acadia National Park.
Fall views across The Tam in Acadia National Park.
A full moon rises in Acadia.
Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania – December
I ended the year back home, spending lots of time with family and on the non stop home improvement projects.
It was another beautiful Christmas display at nearby Longwood Gardens.
Once again, a heartfelt thank you to all those that continue to follow my blog. As these challenging times continue, I wish you nothing but good health to you and all those that are important to you in the coming year.
Thanks for visiting.