2015 in Photos: A Very American Travel Year

Before this year, most people were surprised to hear that an avid traveler like myself didn’t know too much about my own country. When I was teaching English in Madrid, students would ask me what life in America was like. They were curious about the United Four States They Knew Existed: New York, California, Florida, and Texas. Luckily, I come from one of them, and their elation over hearing about and seeing photos of the New York City of the Movies and TV hid the fact that beyond New York, I really had no clue what was going on over there.

When I came back (15 months ago already – yikes how time flies), I resolved to see what all the fuss was about. After walking outside on the Camino de Santiago for five weeks and gaining a new appreciation for natural beauty, I was especially excited. America, so they say, is the land of untouched wilderness. From East Coast to the Southwest, I soaked up America like a sponge. Verdict? I need to see more (and will be in 2016)! My only gripes about US travel are a) Public transportation between places sucks and/or is expensive so you pretty much need a car everywhere. If you don’t own one, renting is also expensive. b) Hostels aren’t really a thing so it’s either couchsurfing or airbnb if you don’t have friends in the area.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to write daily in some form, including blogging more (last year I only published a handful of posts – embarrassing!), so I’m starting with an easy round-up of this past year, in photos. Stay tuned for some more in-depth posts on a few of these places.

Indiana (Bloomington) – No photos because I didn’t have a smart phone yet and accidentally left my camera behind! Bad photographer/blogger!

New York

Nolita, NYC: I spent 3 weeks cat sitting here. Nolita = North of Little Italy, sandwiched between Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo, and LES.

Nolita, NYC: I spent 3 weeks cat sitting here. Nolita = North of Little Italy, sandwiched between Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo, and LES.

Kadampa Meditation Center in Glen Spey, NY. I spent a week here volunteering in exchange for accommodation and three delicious vegetarian meals a day.

Kadampa Meditation Center in Glen Spey, New York. I spent a week here volunteering in exchange for accommodation and three delicious vegetarian meals a day.

Queens, New York. I spent a lot of 2015 getting to know Queens, and (mostly) conquered my fear of biking in the city. I think I'll wait a bit on Manhattan though.

Astoria, New York. I spent a lot of 2015 getting to know Queens, and (mostly) conquered my fear of biking in the city. I think I’ll wait a bit on Manhattan though.

New Mexico

El Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico, the pilgrimage site located near Santa Fe.

El Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico, a pilgrimage site located near Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, New Mexico. A mix of old and new.

Santa Fe, New Mexico. A mix of old architecure and new art.

Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado. An epic sci-fi landscape if there every was one; huge sand dunes sandwiched between mountains and a river. Luckily, sandworms not included.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado. An epic sci-fi landscape if there every was one; huge sand dunes sandwiched between mountains and a river. Luckily, sandworms not included.

Mesa Verde, Colorado. Having studied archaeology, seeing Mesa Verde was kind of like a little pilgrimage site for me. We got caught in an epic rainstorm and hid out in old caves.

Mesa Verde, Colorado. Having studied archaeology, seeing Mesa Verde was kind of like a little pilgrimage site for me. We got caught in an epic rainstorm and hid out in old caves.

Breckenridge, Colorado. So epic. I felt like I was in the Alps. Fresh mountain air, forests, and beautiful skies. I loved Colorado.

Breckenridge, Colorado. So epic. I felt like I was in the Alps. Fresh mountain air, forests, and beautiful skies. I loved Colorado.

Pennsylvania

Visiting Eastern State Penitentiary was definitely one of my Philly highlights.

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wandering these (literally) chilling halls was definitely one of my Philly highlights.

Lancaster County, AKA Amish Country. You're not allowed to photograph the Amish so have an old farmhouse and rolling fields instead.

Lancaster County, AKA Amish Country, Pennsylvania. You’re not allowed to photograph the Amish so have an old farmhouse and rolling fields instead.

Virginia

V is for Virginia. Hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains in November with one of my closest friends!

Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia. November hiking = no trees! Hiked a small portion of the Appalachian Trail with one of my best friends, and was already plotting an Appalachian adventure.

Maryland

Baltimore is known for its row houses. These colorful specimens peeped out at me from a back alley in Hampden, the "hipster" neighborhood.

Baltimore, Maryland is known for its row houses. These colorful specimens peeped out at me from a back alley in Hampden, the “hipster” neighborhood.

Baltimore, Maryland. Such an eclectic city. Some parts very gritty, other parts looking like a little piece of touristy Europe.

Baltimore, Maryland. Such an eclectic city. Some parts very gritty, other parts looking like a little piece of touristy Europe.

So even though my passport remained tucked away in a box, 2015 was another great year of travel and life changes thrown in there in between all that travel, including getting (and quitting) a job at a startup, which led to starting to freelance, which I’m loving. I also got my first tattoo, an arrow to remind myself of the freedom and lessons of the Camino, and to keep moving forward. I also had the best and worst first date ever where the universe took something away (my new phone) and gave me something even better (a partner in creative and travel adventures).

This year is already promising to be an exciting one, full of more American adventures. On the first day of 2016, some big news arrived: a confirmed cat and house-sit for three months in Utah, the state that is home to much more than the Mormons for which they are known: Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Zion, and of course, the Great Salt Lake. See U (I couldn’t resist, I know, sorry not sorry) in a few weeks, Utah!

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7 thoughts on “2015 in Photos: A Very American Travel Year

  1. May safe travels not cramp your chance for adventure. I will eagerly await post. You may be guiding me towards how to afford retirement and still travel. Cat or house sitting, hmmm.

    • You should definitely check out house-sitting, Marybeth! I think you would love it. Get to take care of a house and possibly animals and check out an area for a while. The website I’ve been using is TrustedHousesitters.Com, but there are a bunch of others too.

  2. If you enjoyed the surreal landscape of the Great Sand Dunes, you really ought to head to southern Utah. Just about anywhere you go will blow your mind but Moab and Bryce Canyon are good places to start. If I was not out here living in Mount Shasta, I would probably be in Moab.

    • I know! When I was in Colorado and New Mexico, everyone kept telling me to go to Utah! So excited to be spending three months out there so I get to explore it all! Definitely gotta reserve a few days for Moab.

  3. Wonderful post and pictures! It looks like a marvelous year and all the best in 2016. (I was surprised to see Eastern State Penitentiary in there. I have photographed there many times but now I’ve in Colorado.)

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