Final 2014 Travel Highlights – and 2015 Goals


Now that the holidays are over and everything has calmed back down, I took some time this week to reflect on favorite travel memories from the past year.

These include seeing Stonehenge, tiptoeing through incredible tulips, checking out a painting from a young Andy Warhol, and receiving a very nice honor from peers. Almost everything was wonderful (no major flight delays this year!) but if I had to narrow them down, here are my top 5 highlights for 2014:

1. Big Trips
Yeah, I can’t just choose one. :-) I was lucky enough to be sent to cover conferences in London and Berlin, plus Florida twice! And of course I made sure to slip out here and there for some fun excursions. This included riding the London Eye ferris wheel, standing in two hemispheres in Greenwich, and taking a day trip to Windsor Castle and the already mentioned wonderfully mysterious Stonehenge while in England. Plus, both the weather and the food were unexpectedly glorious.

Big Ben in London

Hello Big Ben!

The highlight of my Berlin trip was walking along the East Side Gallery, the longest existing piece of the original Berlin Wall. It was especially poignant as 2014 was the 25th anniversary of its fall.

East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall, Germany  
In contrast to the teeth-chattering cold and rainy weather there, both Florida trips were warm and welcoming. Of course, going in the Spring and the Winter meant skipping the state’s notoriously scalding Summer heat. Score! This was also where I got my very first pedicure, and a chocolate one at that. Double score!
2. New York City Tulips
I only had one morning to myself last Spring for exploring this often visited locale. But when I heard that tulips, which were in bloom all over the city, were especially showing off at Bryant Park, I headed over – and then panicked just as I reached the park’s edge. I had run off without my camera and only had my phone with me. Turns out, this was a happy mistake as the photos taken with my Samsung Galaxy are some of my most favorite ever.

Bryant Park Tulips in New York City


3. Exploring More of Arkansas
In addition to big trips, I was excited to also get a chance to take day, weekend, and overnight trips across my adopted state. Arkansas offered a steady stream of intriguing options, including festivals such as the Bacon Bowl and World Champion Squirrel Cook Off in Bentonville and Elvis Haircut Day in Fort Smith. I can’t wait to check out more (much more!) this year.

Brent Giddens, Elvis tribute artist

Thank you very much…

4. Discovering Art at Crystal Bridges
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville officially opened its doors in 2011 and has received all sorts of national attention and accolades. But it took me till last year to visit it. And then I did so twice!

The first was a quick visit to see an intriguing Andy Warhol painting he created back in college, and which had been hidden away for years. The second was to view clever, “found art” displays at the State of the Art Exhibit. Now I’m looking forward to checking out their Van Gogh to Rothko exhibit, which is scheduled to run from February 21 through June 1.

Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas

The beautiful Crystal Bridges Museum

5. October Blogger of the Month
I felt really honored when the Arkansas Women Bloggers asked me to be their featured blogger for the month of October. They also let me write about some fun topics, including a gloriously tasty chocolate festival. A big thanks to them – and a recommendation for all readers to check out their website. Those women know how to write!

Chocolate Festival 2014 in Fort Smith, AR  

My new Samantha Brown luggage, a Christmas gift

Merry Christmas to me

Plus One More Highlight: New Luggage for Christmas!
After looking at Samantha Brown luggage online and watching the former Travel Show maven showcase these beautiful and very practical-looking pieces on the Home Shopping Network throughout the year, I was thrilled to receive a set for Christmas from my family. Whoo-hoo! I cannot wait to use them on my very next trip, which I wish was tomorrow. ;-)

This now leads me to my travel goals for the new year. (Of course, if/when I discover ways to accomplish them, I’ll definitely share!)

Top 5 Goals for 2015
1. Get More Organized. It’s always such a big ordeal for me to pack because I overthink everything, and so it takes me forever. I need a new system! Crossing my fingers that the new luggage plus some new packing cubes will be the keys to finally figuring out smarter, easier, more efficient techniques.
2. Pack less. Enough said.
3. Learn ways to make flying/traveling less painful – and incorporate them. This means no more heavy, overpacked bags hanging off my shoulders as I run through an airport, eating healthier, trying to not stress about airport drama, and learning how to walk without getting toe cramps after 2 full days of heavy exploring. Does anyone else get those? Anyone at all? Hello??
4. Find a great, easy-to-use photo organizing system. I snap so many photos. And even after deleting the really bad ones, there are still a lot. I’ve been told to check out Adobe Lightroom,, or ACDSee Photo Manager. Any other suggestions?
5. Blog more. :-)

Happy 2015 everyone – may it be your best year ever!!  

Frozen Branch in Fort Smith, AR


Add a Comment
  1. What a wonderful blog. And thanks for sharing your fantastic year of travel with us. You always make the most of a trip, whether it’s for work or for pleasure. Keep the great stories and beautiful pictures coming. I look forward to them.

  2. Ouch, the dreaded toe cramps. Yes, I get them, too…and always after marathon exploring on foot. The best thing I’ve found for preventing them is to stop and smell the roses…or daisies…or traffic pollution. The key is stop and rest your tootsies. Oh, and treat yourself to two pair of REALLY good walking shoes fitted by a pro. If you press the envelope after doing all of the above and still get toe cramps, soak your feet in hot water and Epsom salt…it probably works about as well to shake beads over your toes but I’ve convinced myself that it works. Keep smiling and never lose that wonderful “can-do” attitude you have.

    1. Good advice Sandy. I just heard that taking potassium pills before heading out might also help. I may try all suggestions. I HATE to be stopped for something like a painful pinky toe! :-)

  3. Definitely been some pawsome times last year for you, Aunty. Be wonderful to see a trip to Aussie on the agenda! Happy 2015 to you and my bestest buddy in the whole wide world *#Aaaarrrroooos to Dakota*

    1. Oooh, Tom. I would LOVE to make it to your neck of the woods. Still crossing my fingers that an Australia visit will work out some day!

  4. London, Berlin & New York.
    What could be more exciting than these?
    The squirrel cook-off? We all need a neutralizer trip too.
    Thanks for sharing your exciting excursions.

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