It is time for my annual list of favorite places. I have done this list every year since we retired and started traveling. It is a review for Tom and me and a way to relish our memories of places together. You can read previous lists from 2017, 2016, and 2015. You can also see most of the places we have been by clicking on the map link at the top of the page. We did a lot of traveling this year, so here is my list of 2018 favorite places.
The first of my 2018 favorite places is St. Simons Island and Fort Frederica National Monument. We hope to be heading back there soon for the third year (as soon as the government shutdown is over). I love the island. Ocean on one side and marsh on the other. Live oak trees and a lush landscape. Shorebirds and dolphins playing in the waves. Tom loves being a British soldier and blacksmith. I love cell service, riding our bike everywhere, and a wonderful grocery store five minutes away. I also enjoy my parents coming to the island for an extended visit. We get to tell a fascinating story and live in a gorgeous place on St. Simons.
The second of my 2018 favorite places is the Arizona Strip and southern Utah. This area is unlike any other in the United States. Remote and almost inaccessible. There are few people and no cell service, but the landscape is so spectacular it makes up for it. Pipe Spring National Monument had a spring with ponds and grass. The Vermillion Cliffs tower over everything, and the countryside is open and waiting to be explored. We made new friends and learned some more of the fascinating history of the United States.
The third of my 2018 favorite places is Bryce Canyon National Park. I never get tired of visiting Bryce. It is remote enough that it keeps the crowds down and accessible enough to make for interesting hiking. Every corner reveals new, awesome sights. The colors of the rock change every day. Bryce has a high enough elevation that it is cooler but not so high that it is cold (in the summer). I love the overlooks, constantly revealing new places to explore.
The fourth of my 2018 favorite places is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Don’t assume you know what the Grand Canyon is like if you have only been to the South Rim. The Kaibab Plateau offers forests, hiking, and a completely different experience. It was also a good place to get away from the heat of the Arizona Strip over the summer. Imperial Point has one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the Grand Canyon. Tuweep was a new and adventurous viewpoint for us. And, of course, the cookies at Jacob Lake Inn are worth the trip all by themselves.
The fifth of my 2018 favorite places is El Morro National Monument. Tom and I were both surprised at how much we liked this place. Reading names inscribed over four centuries was incredibly moving. And knowing the Ancestral Puebloans were there before anyone else put things in perspective. So many stories represented in each name. Along with the natural beauty of the cuesta and the pond at the base of the rock, El Morro is a wonderful and unique area to explore.
Tom wants me to mention two of his favorite places – they didn’t make it onto my list. He loved Natural Bridges and Bears Ears National Monuments. Although I thought they were beautiful, I was tired of not having any cell service or services within an hour. This entire area is beautiful and remote with very few people visiting. It is a wonderful place to explore and I hope that President Trump doesn’t ruin it with his emphasis on drilling and mining.
The final entry on my list of 2018 favorite places is Ohio. Ohio will always be a favorite place as long as my favorite people live there. Our visit this November and December was marked by cold and clouds, but our friends and family continue to welcome us with open arms. Our stay has been extended due to the government shutdown, which gives us more time with these wonderful people. Ohio will always be home to our hearts and one of my favorite places.
How about you? What is on your list of 2018 favorite places? Where do you hope to go in 2019.