A 2021 Travel Recap

To wrap up 2021, I had initially planned to summarize my travels from the year by sharing some of my favorite meals, locations, and trips. But after catching up on the most recent Adventures of A + K video, I was inspired to do a recap of travels throughout the year that weren’t just my own, but including Teddy’s as well! On our trip to the Catskill Mountains in New York over New Years, we spent a good portion of the drive up reflecting on our 2021 travels and picking our favorite places from the year which you’ll find below.

We are both very thankful we got to travel this year as 2020 involved very little travel if any. This year, Teddy and I explored 22 states together and then we each took a trip with friends; Teddy went to Kansas for a hunting trip and I went to the Texas panhandle. We took a week long road trip through New England, and then one to South Carolina for his mater’s degree graduation from Clemson. The rest of our travels were either over weekends or during holidays when we already had off.

We chose a variety of questions to answer from the year and will start with the broadest questions and then get to the most specific. If I have a post that describes the experience mentioned or an itinerary for it, I’ve linked it below.

Sasafras Mountain in North Carolina

Top 5 Experiences from the Year

Teddy 

  • The snow geese migration in Newmanstown, PA
  • The Penn State game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City, Iowa even though Penn State lost
  • The entire experience we had staying in at the Oak Lodge Bed & Breakfast near Ohiopyle, PA including the hiking trails, the historic village, and the cabin.
  • The long and steep drive to top of Mount Washington, in New Hampshire which is the highest peak in the Northeastern US
  • Our entire in Boston including walking the Freedom Trail and watching the Orioles / Red Sox game

Steph 

  • Explore Luray Caverns in Luray, VA. Even though I’d been here as a kid, seeing the beauty of this cave was mind blowing that something like this exists underground.
  • The drive to Mount Washington in New Hampshire. I drove up the mountain and it was terrifying for me, but getting to the top in one piece helped me conquer a huge fear.
  • Going to the Penn State “White Out” with Teddy, his Dad, and my Dad. It was so loud, but such a cool experience.
  • When we stayed at the Mountain Meadows Lodge in Killington, VT and got to hike with the manager’s dog, Daisy, along part of the Appalachian trail. She was adorable and so fun for hiking, especially with her toy chicken she brought along.
  • First time picking crabs in Ocean City, Maryland. I’d never done this before, so while it’s time consuming and at one point I cut my finger, it was a fun experience to have.
Taking Daisy Hiking

Top 3 Destinations

This was a harder one to answer as we loved so many places we visited. But we both tend to love the mountains, so you’ll notice most of our answers are specific mountainous areas.

Teddy

  • The Northeast coastline from Connecticut to Maine.
  • Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire
  • The Southern Appalachian Mountains of that go from Virginia down through the Carolinas

Steph 

Appalachian Mountains in VA

Top 3 Overnight Stays  

This was so hard, as we stayed in so many incredible places this year. But we both have the same top two favorites. We can’t say enough good things about the lodge in Vermont and the Farmhouse we stayed at in Georgia. They both had dogs on the property (Tag & Daisy) who wandered all over and wanted to hang out with you. They both had an outdoorsy vibe and had property where you could hike or kayak. Our third and runner’s up choices I noticed were similar in that they also had property where you could hang out in a shared living or dining room, hike on the property, or that there was a bar or pub on site. What we’v figured out is that we love the whole experience of where we stay, not just our room. And those that have a lot to offer, especially of an outdoorsy nature are our favorites.

Teddy

  • The Mountain Meadows Lodge in Killington, VT
  • The Beacon Farmhouse in Hartwell, GA
  • The Oak Lodge in Stahlstown, PA

Steph

  • The Mountain Meadows Lodge in Killington, VT
  • The Beacon Farmhouse in Hartwell, GA
  • Dove’s Rest Cabins in Palo Duro Canyon, TX
  • Runner Up – The Red Rose Motel in Roscoe, NY
Mountain Meadows Lodge in Killington, VT

Top 3 Hikes

This was also a hard one as I loved the top three picks that Teddy had, but the trip I took with a friend in TX was absolutely incredible, and so two of my three favorite hikes are from that area. Most hikes Teddy and I do are 1-4 miles, so the 6 miler I did at Lighthouse Trail was more than I’m used to but also my favorite I’ve ever done.

Teddy

Steph 

Stony Man Trail in Shenandoah National Park

Top 3 Waterfalls

Teddy loves photography and is incredible at it, especially waterfalls. So I had to include this question in there for him. We visited so many waterfalls this year, so narrowing down his list was hard. But of the 30+, these were the clear favorites.

Teddy

  • Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia
  • Taughannock Falls in Trumansburg, NY
  • Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains of TN

Steph

  • Glen Ellis Falls in Jackson, NH
  • Sabbaday Falls in Bartlett, NH
  • Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains of TN
Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains

Top 3 State Parks

When listing all the state parks we’d been to this year, there were so many so narrowing it down again was hard. Teddy’s favorites include great views, and mine tend to include the red rock of Texas, as well as a great views.

Teddy

  1. Mount Washington State Park in NH
  2. Hyner View State Park in PA  
  3. Ohio Pyle State Park in PA
  4. Runner up – Natural bridge in KY, Watkins Glen 

Steph 

  1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon, TX
  2. Caprock Canyons State Park in Quitaque, TX
  3. Mount Washington State Park in Mount Washington, NH
Mount Washington, NH

Favorite Breakfast

Teddy isn’t really a breakfast fan, so the fact that he wanted to go somewhere two days in a row for breakfast was quite the surprise. My favorite breakfast included a hashbrown on the biscuit as well as sausage, bacon, egg, and cheese.

  • Steph – The breakfast sandwich at Farmwalds Restaurant & Bakery in Horse Cave, KY
  • Teddy – The sausage and cheese biscuit at Cowboy Coffee in Waterloo, Iowa
Breakfast Sandwiches from Farmwalds Restaurant & Bakery

Favorite Lunch

This one was really hard to narrow down to just one, so we didn’t. Basically it’s lobster rolls for all, and then a turkey melt.

  • Teddy – The lobster grilled cheese at Faneuil Hall in Boston and the open face turkey bacon melt at the Back Home Restaurant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky
  • Steph – The lobster roll at the Clam Shack in Kennbunk, Maine and the lobster roll at Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, Maine
Lobster Roll from the Lobster Pound

Favorite Dinner

This one was interesting to answer, as we both had to think for a while. We tend to enjoy lunch when we travel most as it’s usually when we’re out exploring or hiking, so dinner usually is just a quick place close to a hotel. These two were both exceptions to that. Teddy adored the bbq in NY and while crabs aren’t necessarily my favorite food, the experience made it a wonderful time in Ocean City, Maryland.

  • Teddy –  The Pitmaster Combo at Nickel’s Pit BBQ in Watkins Glen, NY
  • Steph – Crab dinner at Crab Alley in Ocean City, Maryland
Crab Alley in Ocean City, Maryland

Favorite Dessert 

  • Steph – The strawberry cupcakes I had arranged ahead of time to celebrate Teddy’s graduation at the Beacon Farmhouse in Hartwell, Georgia. They were the best cupcakes I’ve had in my entire life.
  • Teddy – The peanut butter pie at the Cherokee Grill in Gatlinburg, TN
Strawberry Cupcakes at the Beacon Farmhouse in Hartwell, GA

Favorite Drink (Since Teddy doesn’t like coffee)

  • Steph – The latte at Cody Road Coffee in Le Claire, Iowa
  • Teddy – The Fevre River Ale at Galena Brewing Company in Galena, Illinois
Cody Road Coffee

Favorite Lighthouse

  • Teddy – Bass Harbor Lighthouse at Acadia National Park in Bass Harbor, ME
  • Steph – Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, ME
Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park

Favorite Sunrise

We both love watching the sunrise and sunset together, so this question and the next had to be separate as we both had very specific sunrises and sunsets we thought were most memorable.

  • Steph – The august sunrise over the harbor in Bar Habor, Maine
  • Teddy – A November sunrise in Hays, Kansas
Bar Harbor, Maine Sunrise

Favorite Sunset

  • Steph – Ocean City, Maryland over the summer.
  • Teddy – He couldn’t narrow it down to one so he chose the view from the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge and Ocean City Maryland.
Sunset in Ocean City, Maryland

Favorite National Forest

We both picked the same one – The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. It had wonderful views, waterfalls, and just so much beauty.

White Mountain National Forest

Favorite Town

I thought our answers below were a bit surprising as we love a southern or midwestern small town, but these two towns just were the two that stuck out most.

  • Teddy – Mystic River, CT
  • Steph – Bar Harbor, ME
Mystic, CT

Favorite National Park

We visited a total of 5 National Parks this year, with 3 being new for each of us. They were 5 New River Gorge, Acadia, Mammoth Cave, Shenandoah, and the Smoky Mountains. The first 3 on the list were the new ones. This is another occasion where we both agreed. We thought Acadia was just beautiful and definitely our favorite. From the sunrise in the town nearby, to the lighthouse, the scenic road, and seeing our first glimpse of fall here, it was just an awesome visit.

On Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Favorite Roadtrip

We both picked the same one for this one too. We both loved our New England Road Trip. It had waterfalls, hiking, lighthouses, forests, but also beaches. It truly had so much we loved, and our last night was at the Mountain Meadows Lodge in VT with the dog Daisy we took hiking, and that was truly the cherry on top.

The Flume Gorge in New Hampshire

Favorite Weekend Trip

  1. Teddy – Our PA Road trip during January. It had great views, waterfalls, state parks, and some snowy hikes.  
  2. Steph – The TX Panhandle trip I went on with my friend. While it was a long weekend trip, it was just so relaxing, while being full of adventure, and I loved the red rock views in the canyons.
Winter Road Trip

Most Surprising Place Visited

Same one again. We both thought Mammoth Cave National Park was going to be a bust, but it was actually incredibly awesome inside. The night prior to our cave tour, we went into the park to explore and didn’t find much to do. We just kind of drove around and laughed to ourselves because we were thinking why in the world is this a National Park. Then, we went underground on the cave tour the next day and clearly understood why it was so special.

Mammoth Cave National Park in KY

The Stats

  • States Visited: 22 together, and then Teddy visited KS and I visited TX
  • State Parks Visited: 30+
  • National Parks Visited: 5
  • National Seashores Visited: 1
  • National Forests Visited: 9
  • Total Nights in a Hotel / Airbnb: 47 for me and 51 for Teddy
  • Total Miles Driven: 8500 miles driven together
  • Total Hours Driven: 184 hours of driving together (That’s a lot of quality time!)

Thank you for following along on our adventures this year. We love hearing when you’ve explored somewhere we’ve suggested. Happy holidays and I hope you all had a wonderful new year! Thank you!

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