At the end of every year I think about my favorite places that I have been in the year. Are there places to which I am eager to return? What are the best memories and are they tied to the people or the place? This year I have six favorite places I want to highlight.
My first favorite place is our little house in Genoa Township. This year we purposefully decided to spend about eight months in our home. As opposed to the forced isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic when we were home for nine months. The longer we live in our little house the more we like. The main reasons are location and proximity. We love that our house is located next to the Ohio to Erie bike trail and borders the Char-Mar Ridge Preservation Park. Even when it is really cold, I am out every morning doing my three-mile loop. Tom has been riding his trike on the bike trail every chance he gets despite the freezing temperatures.
We also like how close our house is to Mom and Dad and John and Jackie. We can run over to John and Jackie’s for a game or a movie or a meal. Recently we drove up to Mom and Dad’s to fetch them for a concert in Grove City and then drove them home after the concert. We love seeing our family every week. Being close to stores and getting familiar with what is available where is also a big advantage. We recently changed grocery stores from Sunbury to Westerville because the Westerville store has better stock. We went out to brunch with John and Jackie and realized that four of our favorite restaurants were in the small shopping complex where we were eating. Every week this place becomes more like home.
My second favorite place is St. Simons Island in Georgia. We will soon be heading south for our sixth season working at Fort Frederica. But, even more than Fort Frederica, I just like being on St. Simons Island in the winter. When it is cold and freezing in Ohio, with plenty of ice and snow, it is usually in the 60’s and 70’s in coastal Georgia. Even though I get out and walk every day in Ohio, I would rather walk in the warm, sea breezes of St. Simons. I also enjoy the people we work with on the island and look forward to seeing them every year.
My third favorite place in 2022 was the Soo Locks and the Soo Locks Campground in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. I never imagined that I would enjoy watching ships go by so much or watching them get raised and lowered. And yet, it appears that I can watch them for hours on end. Give me some knitting, a camp chair and a view of the St. Mary’s River, and I am a happy camper. The Soo Locks Boat Tour was another thing that thrilled me well beyond what I expected. It also helped that Sandy and Eric were there with us and we could talk to and enjoy being with them as we watched the ships.
My fourth favorite place was St. Ignace, Michigan. I am ready to go back right now just to get some Murdick’s fudge and say hi to Ricardo. Well, maybe not right now. St. Ignace is definitely a summer destination. Right now it is 16 degrees with a foot of snow on the ground in St. Ignace. We loved staying at Straits State Park with our view of the Mackinac Bridge. Touring the forts in the area was a definite plus, especially Fort Michilimackinac. It would also be nice to go back to Mackinac Island and hike around the state park there. I could skip downtown and the crowds of people.
My fifth favorite place, and a place I would like to spend several more days, was Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin. I would love to explore more of the park and camp in one of the large campgrounds. There is a scenic train that runs through the park and it would be fun to ride that. Wisconsin has some great bike trails and we didn’t have time to do any of them when we were there at the end of September. Riding our tandem and exploring some of the area would be a lot of fun. Taking a day to hike the Ice Age Trail or go to one of the Scientific Reserves in the area would be interesting.
The final spot on the six favorite places of 2022 belongs to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Tennessee and Kentucky. The place is really big and only lightly visited, especially when compared to the nearby Smoky Mountains National Park. There are all kinds of hiking trails we could follow as well as a historic farm. I would love to take the scenic train ride and rent a canoe to ride down the river. There are so many miles to explore and so few people that it feels like undiscovered country. I could even live without my cell phone for a day if we could hike in to Charit Creek Lodge and stay there overnight. Maybe Tom and I will have the chance to explore Big South Fork more thoroughly when we are working at Cumberland Gap this next summer.
Those are my six favorite places of 2022. Where have you visited in 2022 that you would love to go back to? What favorite place of yours should I put on my bucket list?