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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.