Instead of posting a Monthly Flashback image for the month of January, I will be doing a look back from this past year. Boy, do I have some fun things to share!

Man, I can’t believe it is the end of the year already! I started my new job in a new city in January and now have 15 days of vacation a year, along with some holidays. I am still trying to make the most of my vacation days, even though my time off has decreased significantly. Now, here is how I made the most of my vacation days for 2013. Be sure to click on any of the links throughout this post for the full article.

Iceland – March

Andy and I have been wanting to go to Iceland for a few years now. However, after researching, we realized how expensive the rental car would make our trip and decided to go elsewhere. Finally, we found a great flight/hotel/tour package from Icelandic Air that was a steal. I finally got to see the aurora borealis! Cold weather did not faze me when I was trying to capture the magnificent light show. We also met two other groups from the Seattle area and were able to stay connected through common interests.

As part of our flight package, we went on a Super Jeep Tour. However, instead of sticking to the city limits of Reykjavik, we ventured to Skaftafell National Park, where we saw the aurora borealis at Jökulsárlón’s iceberg lagoon. Returning to Reykjavik before leaving, we drove a portion of the Golden Circle Route to see some of Iceland’s famous natural attractions.

Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Yellowstone – May

Yes, we drove to Yellowstone from Seattle for a long weekend without taking any vacation days off and making use of Memorial Day. Since the weather forecasts were not pleasant for Washington or Oregon, we headed further east. We camped within Yellowstone and had a great time spotting wildlife as we drove around the park. We also hiked to the top of Mt. Washburn.

enjoying the grand view

Yellowstone Canyon – Photo By: Andy Crampton

Yosemite – June

After finding cheap flights to San Francisco, we decided to book them and attempt to climb Cathedral Peak while visiting Yosemite National Park. Even though we were not able to climb, the hiking and landscapes were well worth the trip. Even though we were not successful climbing Cathedral Peak, I still had an amazing time shooting time lapses and taking in the scenery. Now that we know that these flight deals are common, I am sure we will be going back!


View of Half Dome

British Columbia – July

My brother was the first of my family to come visit me in Seattle. I took advantage of the long holiday weekend and took him and a friend on an overnight backpacking trip at Garibaldi Lake. I practiced glissading down snow and even got a little sunburn!


Glissading Down Panorama Ridge

Ireland – August

I traveled to Ireland for my cousin’s wedding with Andy and my parents. We drove around the country and made it to Northern Ireland. Visiting many sites along our drive and drinking pints of Guinness. I have a new found love for staying at B&Bs from our trip and found the locals to be the friendliest I have come across on my travels. Check out my many articles on Ireland.


Cliffs of Moher

Cleveland, OH – September

I was invited back to the Midwest to celebrate nuptials of some close friends. My trip to Cleveland was not about sightseeing or touring but to reconnect with friends I moved away from. It was great not having to use GoogleMaps for once while driving around a familiar city.


Lake Erie Sunset

Banff, Canada – Thanksgiving

After debating where to spend our Thanksgiving holiday, we decided to take the 11 hour drive to Banff from Seattle. It was definitely the right choice. We were able to dabble in many outdoor activities, such as snowshoeing, ice-skating, skiing, and hiking. Banff’s surrounding mountains make for picturesque scenery, along with a ski lodge village feel. With many options to explore in the Banff/Lake Louise area, it is hard to find a relaxing minute. Check out my photo essay of my trip; I will be sharing some posts on Banff in 2014, so stay tuned.


Ice Skating on Bow Lake

Pennsylvania – December

The hustle and bustle of the holidays were no exception when having to visit two sets of family within eight days that live four hours apart. I focused on visiting friends and family and took a digital detox.

Along with the major trips, here are some of my weekend highlights exploring the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

PNW Weekend Getaways

For my birthday weekend, I headed to the Olympic Peninsula for my first time and hiked along the shore on beaches and cliffs. I am definitely considering making this a yearly trip with friends. Orcas Island redeemed itself from last December with a biplane ride and two Outer Island Expedition tours that consisted of whale watching and kayaking.

Biplane Tour

Magic Air Biplane Tour

PNW Outdoors Adventures

I started adventuring outdoors during a weather inversion by climbing Mt. St. Helens. In the spring, we decided to take advantage of microclimates by rock climbing and ski touring in one weekend. Also, the ski season lasts much longer than ones back East, so my first ski season from November through roughly Easter was a success. A few rock climbing trips to Smith Rock (in the spring) and Vantage (in the fall) helped me get away from the Seattle rain. After some practice and endurance on other smaller hikes, I successfully climbed Mt. Adams and had fun glissading down 2,000+ vertical feet. A month later, I decided the Enchantments are worth the hype with gorgeous alpine landscapes.


On the Summit of Mt Adams

Seattle Activities

Lastly, it was fun exploring my new city. We had a fun weekend attending two Seattle festivals while enjoying the sunshine with friends. I had a few visitors over the summer months and was able to watch the 4th of July fireworks and go to the Fremont Oktoberfest with them. We enjoyed one of the last weeks of summer by doing some Seattle activities, which included a Sounds game. When the weather was no so nice, we opted for a day in the Museum of Flight.

Wrap Up

It has been a year of fully blogging on my site. I have been working on my brand. I appreciate everyone who has been following my travels through my blog posts and social media. I hope to continue the progression of my blog within the years to come by adding new and past trips. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for me. I do not have any travel plans now and am open to suggestions!

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