Wow! I have been so very fortunate to have had the most incredibly memorable year for travel! And what a difference 12 months can make!
It’s taken me a while to write this up as it was a very, very busy year, but I am continuing my annual end of the year post tradition by reflecting on where I’ve been in 2022 – and sharing some of my reflection photos in the process.
The beginning of the year started bleak as my husband and I decided to postpone a long planned trip to Egypt because of the uncertainty around the new Covid variant. Instead, I planned a road trip to some of my favorite US National Parks that I had always wanted to visit in the winter, some with my husband and some on my own.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is a wonderful experience any time of year, and even more so in winter. It’s peaceful, completely uncrowded and covered in a pristine blanket of snow from horizon to horizon. It takes a little more planning to get to Yellowstone in winter, but I think I prefer it at that time of year.
Since the scenery at Yellowstone was essentially two colors, black and white photos seem appropriate.
From the stark, cold, black and white landscape in Wyoming I flew to Phoenix to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical Garden and at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Both the temperatures and the scenery were quite a bit warmer here.
Always love seeing and photographing Chihuly’s glass installations.
I had always wanted to see Sedona, so I planned a stop on the way to the Grand Canyon. One day was definitely not enough time in this area and I will have to go back for a longer stay next time.
Grand Canyon National Park, Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park
We had done this loop of National Parks as a family 17 years ago after my son graduated from high school. I have always wanted to see them in winter and I discovered that this is the ideal time to visit these popular destinations. It wasn’t busy, the weather was great (not hot or too cold for me) and hardly anyone was on the roads.
I also stopped at a number of National Monuments in Arizona on the way and found these to be just as interesting and scenic as the big name national parks.
The Grand Canyon – photos don’t do it justice
Death Valley National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Tombstone Arizona
I drove on to Las Vegas where my husband met me and we continued our road trip to Death Valley National Park and then back into Arizona to Saguaro National Park and Tombstone, the site of the famous gunfight at the OK Corral.
And we also saw the famous London Bridge which is not in London but in Lake Havasu City, Arizona – go figure.
We stayed at the Tombstone Ranch where the rooms were made to look like an old west town. This was a great backdrop for my Sunset Mesa quilt that I had made a few years ago.
Panama Canal full transit cruise
My mother always said I had no “sitz fleisch” – German for not being able to sit still. I wasn’t home long when I started looking for other travel options. The cruise industry was still trying to get off the ground at this point in time and Princess was offering sailings with no single supplement so I jumped at the chance for a full transit cruise through the Panama Canal on the Ruby Princess.
My mother cruised with Princess many times before she passed, and the Panama Canal was one of the cruises she enjoyed most. Being on a cruise that she had done on what would have been her 96th birthday made the trip especially poignant.
A tug pulls up alongside the Ruby Princess in the early morning hours to drop off the pilot that will guide us through the Panama Canal.
One of the cruise stops was Cartagena, Columbia. An old prison in Cartagena is now a shopping arcade.
I always love to see a beautiful sunset at sea.
Memphis, Tennessee and Mississippi
I decided to do a last minute trip to TravelCon (a travel blogger conference) which was taking place in Memphis, a city I was always interested in visiting. While at the conference, I ended up getting on a media trip that showcased the musical roots in Mississippi. I really liked discovering this part of a state that I probably would not have visited on my own.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
May was family time with the kids and grandsons at the beach. Unfortunately, it rained the whole time we were there, but it was still fun being with our two grand boys and the grown up kids. It doesn’t happen often so I always relish the moments when we are all together.
One of my favorite trips ever was a barge cruise with European Waterways on the Burgundy Canal. I was thrilled to be invited to tour with them again, this time on the Canal de Briare in the Loire Valley on their flagship barge, the Renaissance.
It was once again an extremely memorable trip filled with interesting sights and excursions, exceptional food, and excellent wine. And since this time my husband joined me, the experience was even more special.
Scenes from a week of barge cruising in the Loire Valley with European Waterways
From the Loire Valley, we continued on to the Alsace region of France and explored Strasburg and Colmar where we discovered the perfect blend of German and French cultures (and wines).
Lovely Strassburg is a blend of German and French architecture.
Yes, Colmar does look like it belongs in a fairy tale.
Then it was on to Switzerland where my husband and I explored the country for 10 days by train. It was interesting to experience the different influences in each canton – from German to French to Italian, each region had a slightly different personality with beautiful mountain scenery connecting it all together.
As we moved through Switzerland, it was clear that travel was back and in full swing in Europe. Though not as busy yet as July and August would be, it was more crowded than I had expected. The world of travel was moving back to normal at warp speed.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
My husband and I had planned a bucket list trip to the Galapagos for 2020 and had to postpone it 3 times due to the pandemic. It was exciting to finally get to go after two years of waiting. The trip started great and we had a few nice days of sightseeing in the Quito area before our tour in the Galapagos Islands with ROW Adventures began.
The night before our flight to the islands, my husband started feeling the beginnings of a cold coming on. We confirmed it was not Covid and he decided to push on, hoping to feel better in a few days.
Unfortunately, as the next few days progressed, he just kept feeling worse and midway through the tour we did something we have never done before – we decided to leave midway through a trip and head home.
It took two days to get back to our own beds since we were in the middle of nowhere on Isabella Island off the coast of Ecuador. In the end this was a good decision because I also started feeling ill as we were flying toward Philly, and once we were home both hubby and I eventually ended up on antibiotics and other heavy duty drugs.
In this case, having travel insurance made it easy to decide to leave a trip early – though 6 months later I am still battling with Allianz to get our money back.
We did manage to see some of the scenery and wildlife that the Galapagos is famous for, though I did not get my fill and am not taking this off the bucket list yet. I hope to go back again at some point and spend more time there.
I really enjoyed my Panama Canal Princess cruise so when I found another last minute Princess cruise deal with no single supplement I jumped at the opportunity. This time I was sailing on the Sky Princess along the Norwegian coast past the Arctic Circle and then back to Southampton, England.
The scenery was everything I had imagined and more. It gave me a flavor of what the country had to offer and now a road trip through Norway is on my bucket list.
A few scenes from my Sky Princess cruise in Norway
From Norway I flew to Iceland where my husband joined me for a wonderful two week road trip all around this incredibly scenic country. Driving around Iceland on our own was easy and allowed us to see and photograph the many beautiful sights at our own pace.
Just a miniscule fraction of all the beautiful sights and photos from Iceland
We saw hundreds of waterfalls (or was it thousands?), floating icebergs, black sand beaches, glacier cut fjords surrounded by high mountain peaks, and thermal features, just to name some of mother nature’s diversity on this small island that packs a huge scenic punch. We were even lucky to have clear skies on our first two nights which allowed us to see the northern lights quite clearly.
During the two weeks I was in Iceland I can say that I saw most of the country. Still, it’s such beautifully scenery that I definitely want to go back.
I was thrilled to be one of eight travel writers chosen to take part in an International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) press trip to Jordan. I had been to Jordan before and was eager to go back and see more of this welcoming country – it did not disappoint.
Over the course of 10 days, our group explored all the major sights in Jordan from top to bottom and back again. The best part was that our tour also gave us some lesser known experiences which should definitely be on everyone’s Jordan itinerary (I will be writing about all this soon).
From Jordan I continued flying east to southeast Asia where I started an 11 day cruise through Laos on the Mekong River. My floating home with 8 other passengers was the Laos Pandaw, a classic teak and brass boat that allowed us to easily discover authentic small villages along with the bigger sights in Laos.
The scenery was green, verdant and peaceful. The service on board was attentive and the food and drink were fantastic. As we cruised slowly down river, we watched daily life unfold along the riverbank. This was a definitely an extremely pleasant and comfortable way to discover the culture of Laos.
Vietnam and Cambodia
My Pandaw experience was not over yet. From Vientiane, Laos’ capital, I flew to Saigon to start a 7 day Classic Mekong river cruise on the Bassac Pandaw. We cruised upriver, exploring first Vietnam and then Cambodia. Again, everything about this cruise was perfection.
The cruise ended in Siem Reap where I had a few days to explore Angkor Wat and a few of the other ancient temples around it. This has been on my wish list for a long time and I was thrilled to finally get to experience this unique destination.
I was visiting southeast Asia because I was heading to a travel blogger conference in Thailand. I took the long way to Phuket, the location of the conference, starting first in Chiang Mai and then travelling south to the historic cities of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya before heading to the beach in Phuket. My Thailand explorations finished with a few days at a floating hotel on the River Kwai and then Bangkok.
My favorite experiences during the two weeks I was in Thailand were my visits to two different elephant sanctuaries. I had a chance to see these gentle giants up close and to interact with them up close and personal.
After being on the road for two months, I continued my flight eastward as I flew back home on Black Friday from Bangkok, via Tokyo and Chicago – my first time flying completely around the world – and hopefully not my last.
This was a challenging year for travel in many ways. I was fortunate – with so many flights all year all over the globe, I didn’t have any significant delays and my luggage arrived with me each time. Fingers crossed that this trend continues.
After literally travelling around the globe for two months, it was nice to be back home for the holidays and to spend time with family, especially my grandchildren. Of all the amazing experiences I have had in 2022, the best day of the year was making holiday cookies with my 4 year old grandson – the most priceless memories of the whole year.
2022 in quilts
It was a good year for my creative side as well as I made a few more quilts inspired by my travel destinations. I started a new project on the Panama Canal cruise which is about 2/3 done, but I also finished a few others.
“In Darwin’s Footsteps”
For a special bucket list trip like the Galapagos, I made a special quilt inspired by some of the creatures found there.
I combined a number of patterns by Elizabeth Hartman on one side of the quilt and added fabrics by Kaffe Fassett in shades of turquoise.
Because I like to make both sides of my quilts interesting, on the other side I used more Kaffe Fassett fabrics in Chevron pattern.
I photographed the quilt on Isabella Island in the Galapagos.
“Night and Day in Iceland”
I took inspiration for the “Night’ side of the quilt from the northern lights that are visible in Iceland’s night skies.
The “Day” side of the quilt pays homage to the many puffins that make Iceland their home during the summer months.
I photographed the quilt at different locations throughout Iceland but my favorite photos were those taken at Diamond Beach.
South East Asia
I used bright shades of dupioni silk fabric on both sides of the quilt – purchased at a quilt show I went to last year. I knew that working with the silk would be a little more challenging, so I chose a pattern that used large pieces. This is one of the “Turning Twenty” blocks. I think that the larger fabric pieces in each block also show off the colors well.
I photographed my quilt in different spots on my trip (yes, I travelled around the world for 8 weeks with a quilt). These photos were taken at the various sites in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
Again, a huge thanks to my friend and expert longarm quilter Cindy Carey of North Star Long Arm Quilting who went out of her way to fit me into her schedule so I could take my quilts with me on my trips.
Yes – 2022 has been an extraordinarily epic year of travel for me. After being grounded for 18 months due to the pandemic, I was certainly eager to get back to seeing the world and to make up for lost time, doing what I love to do so much.
I started the year with concerns about maintaining social distancing, wearing my mask indoors at all times, and doing trips in the outdoors away from people. As the year progressed, I slowly became more comfortable being in close quarters with others, though I still wore a mask quite often (and still do on planes, in airports and on cruise ships).
At the beginning of the pandemic, I was still in my 50’s – though just barely. My 60th milestone birthday came and went without any fanfare (as did our 35th wedding anniversary) and each year just seems to pass more and more quickly while the aches and pains keep multiplying ever faster.
Coming out of the pandemic, I feel a strong sense of urgency that I did not feel before to see all the places on my wish list as soon as possible. You just don’t know what tomorrow or next week or next month will bring so now it is all about filling my time with meaningful travel experiences while I can.
So, what is on the docket for 2023?
To start with, I am making up for missing out on a special 60th birthday which I had hoped to celebrate in Antarctica. I will be going on a 16 day cruise in a few weeks on the Sapphire Princess starting in Santiago, Chile, going around Cape Horn, scenic cruising for 4 days in Antarctica, and ending up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I wont be touching ground in Antarctica this time, but still hope to see a lot of its incredible beauty. Then I will go on to see Iguazu Falls, another top bucket list item for me.
Then we will see what the rest of the year brings – I certainly have ideas of where else I want to go. Stay tuned!
I like to say that I write because I travel. Well, I’ve travelled a lot in 2022 and am trying to catch up on all the writing. As always, thank you to everyone that reads this “drivel” – hope you continue to find it useful and entertaining.
Wishing everyone a healthy 2023 with lots of amazing adventures that expand your horizons and many experiences that bring you joy.