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A 2020 Positive Perspective| My Year Review Of Travel, Exploration, And Yes, Tons Of Adventure

It’s great to have the year 2020 in the rear view mirror now isn’t it? To say that this past year has been a challenging one is an understatement. We might even consider it the year that never was. Let’s just take a minute and think about it; maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. If we break it down, and think about the small things with an open mind.  I might even call it an extraordinary year. This is why I put together a positive perspective| my year review of travel, exploration, and yes, tons of adventure!

You might be asking, “But Shannon, what do you mean by an extraordinary year?” Well, take a step back and think about everything you did this past year. Could you ever imagine becoming a teacher, a fitness genius, a chef, an artist, and an outdoor expert? The year most definitely gave us opportunity to explore new things, and even learn a little more about ourselves. It gave us more quality time with our families, which is so priceless in the short life span that we are all given. I know I certainly took advantage of this extraordinary year of 2020.

West coast, Northern California.
A 2020 Positive Perspective| My Year Review Of Travel, Exploration, And Yes, Tons Of Adventure

An Extraordinary Year

The year for me and my family is something we try to think positively about and do not focus on the negative vibes that we all were bombarded with and continue to be, unfortunately. Not only did we deal with a pandemic, we made a move across country when it was very early in the virus invasion. But the year began with a wonderful getaway trip to Hawaii. So, yes, we most definitely took advantage of the past extraordinary year, but understand, it no doubt includes very limited travel.

View of Waikiki, Hawaii.
View of Waikiki Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii is the perfect place to unwind, relax, and enjoy the outdoors. We feel we got lucky to have traveled to Hawaii before all the lock downs began. We arrive into Oahu when very little is known about Caronavirus during the early part of the year. Our agenda consists of hiking, exploring, and more hiking adventures, Hawaii style!

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Adventure And Exploration

One of our ultimate goals besides hiking up the infamous Half Dome in Yosemite National Park is hiking to Haiku Stairs; otherwise known as Stairway to Heaven. This is one of the best hikes in Hawaii! We of course, hike this trail on the legal route via the Moanalua Valley Middle Ridge trail which is long, challenging, and more dangerous to get to the stairs. These stairs consist of 3,944 steps and spans along Oahu’s Ko’olau mountain range. The Haiku Stairs hike is an illegal hike and there are potentially steep fines if caught.

Hawaii ridge. Hiking Moanalua Valley trail. To Stairway to Heaven.
Stairway to Heaven hike via the Moanalua Valley Middle Ridge Trail

Hiking is not the only thing we love about Hawaii, we also enjoy the lifestyle overall. We recently considered moving here after a job opportunity arose, but we had to decline it because of other circumstances at the time. We make sure to visit every year to fully take in the pristine beaches, incredible natural beauty, and the stunning sunsets.

Bellows Beach, Hawaii.
Bellows Beach, Hawaii

The Big Move

Upon returning from our trip to this tropical paradise, we now had to focus on the move across country. At this time, an opportunity came up from the great state of Florida. Hence, the decision to move has been put into action. We are still early in the year and no lock downs have been implemented yet at this time. Preparation to move is already a big task. Throw in moving 3000 or so miles away, now that is overwhelming project indeed! I can’t imagine moving across the globe, but some destinations sure look tempting!

The Plan

Although a big move like this might seem extremely challenging, it doesn’t have to be. Making a plan is always a good idea and thinking ahead. Of course, with any move, make sure you are moving to an area that you know you will enjoy living! However, if you are moving because of job requirements, then try to choose a community within the vicinity of your work. This might include finding the right home in the neighborhood that best suits your lifestyle. We always consider cost of living, weather and climate as a determining factor of where we will live as well.

The Drive

After planning, packing, and loading the moving truck, it was time for the drive. We put together a list of all the rest stops and truck stops along Interstate 10. This is to help plan how and where we can park the moving truck or the accessibility to exit or merge back onto the interstate with ease. We also compiled this information to make sure the fuel tanks never get too low on a stretch of open road of no services.

Open road in the California desert.
Open Road

The Virus

The move went on without a glitch or any trouble. It was awesome to be home and moved in at this time. Now, after just 3 weeks in our Florida home, the covid lock downs begin. I admit it was tough being in a new area feeling so excited to get out and about but unable to do so. We stayed home like most everyone else during this time. When the county allowed businesses and places to begin to open back up again, we started exploring the nature parks and considered traveling.


It was a difficult decision this past summer to go ahead and travel. But I haven’t seen my family in nearly a year and I had the need to see them. The plan is to fly to North Dakota and also make a road trip to South Dakota. Our National Park bucket list is still a work in process, so we combined a visit to Badlands National Park into this trip as well.  

A 2020 Positive Perspective| My Year Review Of Travel, Exploration, And Yes, Tons Of Adventure
Flight Travel
Exploring Local Parks

In addition to our goal of visiting all the U.S. National Parks, we also enjoy exploring local nature parks. And this past year gave us opportunity to wander throughout several local preserves and parks nearby! Here is a brief description of these amazing Florida parks.

  • Robinson Preserve is one beautiful nature park consisting of smooth paths, ponds, and preserve mangroves! You will find trees, wildlife, and wildflowers everywhere here. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a peaceful outdoor excursion during the pandemic.

*Nathan Benderson Park is an area located nearby the Sarasota Mall at University Town Center. At this park, there are annual rowing competitions at the 400 acre lake of which is surrounded by about 3.5 miles of paved pathways for hikers and bikers alike.

Benderson Park, Sarasota, FL.
Benderson Park

*Myakka River State Park is one of my favorites! With its vast array of scenic marshlands, trails, camping, and adventure activities, you will definitely be in awe of the 4 mile (round trip) nature rugged hike out to Deep Hole. If you love wildlife, you will indulge yourself here with hundreds of alligators, roseate spoonbills, egrets, and majestic ospreys!

*Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is literally like a rain forest in the middle of town! Immerse yourself in this mystical natural landscape where you might feel you are in a Harry Potter movie roaming through the cypress tree beds.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, Fort Myers, FL.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, Fort Myers, FL

Road Trip

As we head into the fall season, we are able to add yet another National Park to our list. Our road trip to the Keys in south Florida was absolutely awesome! Dry Tortugas National Park is such a unique and water adventure like no other! You will find tons of history here as well as some of the best snorkeling in the world. To reach this park there is a two hour catamaran ride that will take you about 70 miles southwest of Key West, Florida. You are in the middle of nowhere, literally!

Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, FL.
Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, FL.

Tropical Storms

Let’s not forget to add to the pandemic a couple of tropical storms passing through Florida as well. Tropical Storm Sally came through while we were in Key West exploring Dry Tortugas. Returning from the island where the national park is located, we are greeted by flooded streets and light downpours. Tropical Storm Eta came through central Florida shortly thereafter as well. These storms caused little damage to our property and we are safe and sound.

Key West Flooded Streets during Tropical Storm Sally
Key West Flooded Streets during Tropical Storm Sally


We try our best to indulge ourselves currently in all of what Florida life has to offer. In addition to exploring the local parks, beaches, and national parks here, we spent a lot of time in the water during 2020. We made sure to get plenty of beach time searching for shells, sand dollars, and kayaking. The peaceful glide through the mangroves while searching for manatees is priceless. There is no other fun activity that makes you feel like a kid than collecting shells on Shell Island while kayaking in the Gulf!

Kayaking in the Gulf towards Shell Island, FL.
Kayaking in the Gulf towards Shell Island, FL.


So, the year 2020 was really not that bad after all. It’s about how you look at it. Change your attitude, change your world. For me, my focus here in this article is all about adventure and the things that offer joy and happiness to me. I want these things to be in my life; fun, joy, love and happiness, this is what my outlook for the future is as well. Turning negatives into positives when they arise. This is how my attitude and reflection is of the year 2020. It is one full of gratitude, love, adventure, fun, and learning! So yes, my year has been an extraordinary one indeed!

Gratitude. The Gulf near St. Pete, FL.
Gratitude. The Gulf near St. Pete, FL.

Side Note: I realize that many of you have been or are currently in a lock down status. Some of you may not even be able to go outside for other reasons than essential. I will just say be patient, hang in there, keep your head up and do the best you can in your situation. Please do not allow the negative vibes to dominate your life. Focus on the good things in your life and build upon that. Hopefully soon, this pandemic will be over.

A 2020 Positive Perspective| My Year Review Of Travel, Exploration, And Yes, Tons Of Adventure
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  1. It seems that dealing with the pandemic in a new city would have been especially challenging. Quite a year it’s been….

    1. Oh yes, the move itself was a bit challenging especially moving across country. But we plan it out and take it one step at a time. The year will probably never be forgotten.. Thanks so much for reading!

  2. It seems like you had a wonderful year regardless. It’s all about having the right attitude! Also, way to be resilient during lockdown in a new place!!

    1. Thank you Lannie, We did everything we could to stay positive, stay active, and indulge in our new surroundings. Thanks again for all the support!

  3. Great attitude! Looks like you had a pretty busy year moving and exploring your new home, after all.

    1. Thanks so much! We definitely kept ourselves busy for sure. That was a bright spot last year, is being in our home and a new community is exciting. Now if we could take part in some festivities when the virus gets eliminated! Hoping! Happy New Year!

  4. I like the way you’ve approached the year. Looking back it’s not dissimilar to my own. With less moves, tropical storms and alligators. You have to make the most of what you have. Well done Shannon.

    1. Lol! Yes, we could do without the storms and alligators, but then life might have been boring last year. Ha! Happy New Year to you and your family. Always appreciate all your support!

  5. musingsandadventureswriter

    Hawai’i, huh?? Aren’t you lucky lol. Those FL pics are lovely, esp the Ft. Jefferson one. What’s FL without gators? Lol. What an adventurous tear you’ve had!

    1. Thank you so much! Exactly,. that’s why I had give reflect back over 2020 and realize how lucky we are. Thanks again for your support!

  6. musingsandadventureswriter

    Jealous of the Hawai’i trip but the FL pics are lovely, esp the Ft. Jefferson one. What’s FL without gators, huh? Lol

  7. I totally agree – you have to look at the positives! The year was bad, but there were some great things that came out of it. Definitely made us all stronger.

    1. Absolutely, we are stronger, and so very grateful for what we have in life. These hard times forces us to think about those things. Attitude is everything! Thank you very much for reading!

  8. Love your positive perspective! Years ago we moved from Colorado to Fort Myers and had so much fun going to different beaches. We finally found a quiet section on Bonita Beach we liked a lot. We also enjoyed going to Venice Beach to search for sharks teeth. This year we moved over 1000 miles during the pandemic so we completely understand the challenges to be careful.

    1. Oh my goodness, so you guys had a Big move too! That alone is a stressful experience, yet throw in a pandemic, (and hurricanes). Sounds like you enjoyed your Florida living while here! We are loving our time here and exploring all around the state. We hope to go on more road trips in 2021. Thanks for reading my friend!

  9. I agree. Always focus on the positive. Florida is also a wonderful place to explore especially by kayak. 🙂 There’s so much to see and do from the Keys to all the nature.

    1. It’s all about the attitude! This past year definitely made my mind tougher. We sure love to explore and take the kayak out as much as possible. We had such a blast in the Keys,.. even when with the riding our bikes in 3 feet of water to get back to the hotel. Lol! Thanks again for reading!

  10. I absolutely agree: in the midst of all the gloom there have been many positives this year. You have certainly managed to pack a lot in! We are currently in a full lockdown, but even then, we are blessed to live in a wonderful place where we can get out to exercise and explore. Have enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time here and sort of re-boot.

    1. So sad to hear about the full lockdown Jane! It certainly helps to live in a wonderful place like you describe! Take full advantage and count your blessings! Thanks so much for reading!


    I absolutely agree: in the midst of all the gloom there have been many positives this year. You have certainly managed to pack a lot in! We are currently in a full lockdown, but even then, we are blessed to live in a wonderful place where we can get out to exercise and explore. Have enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time here and sort of re-boot.

  12. Love this positive message about 2020! My family and I have had similar conversations. While we certainly experienced some lows and uncertainty, we also discovered so much about ourselves and enjoyed rediscovering all the beauty in our own backyard.

    1. We certainly did too! We actually were able to get a few projects around the house done too; (because we recently moved into our home). So it was a full year, and we are thankful for the beautiful place we live in, especially the backyard. Lol! 🙂

  13. Love your positivity, Shannon! It’s true there are many things that I probably wouldn’t have done this year if we hadn’t been stuck in Hong Kong. So many hikes! It’s great that you got to get out and explore some of Florida’s parks. It’s a beautiful state and I hope you continue to enjoy it!

    1. Thank you so much, Becky! I know I certainly am enjoying seeing your posts of your amazing hiking adventures from Hong Kong too! We all just have to learn to appreciate what we have.. right now. (and always too); and hang in there. This will be over soon hopefully. Until then, we have more fun to find in Florida!!

  14. Wow, you ran the full gamut of experiences and destinations. It must have been quite the rollercoaster looking back.

    1. Yes, actually it was. When my husband and I were chatting about what we did, (we first said, we didn’t get to travel much,..but); then we say wow, it was quite a year, and not so bad after all.

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