2021 Year In Review –
Even in a pandemic, life goes on. For our family, 2021 was an eventful year (both good and bad)-
-The world lost one of the most amazing women ever, Chad’s Grandma Patsy. She lived a long full life but will be greatly missed. We were so lucky to have her in our lives!
-We found a new winter outdoor activity – ice skating! Homeschooling Eli gave us a lot of free time to spend outside (we could fit a whole school day into a few hours). We went skiing/snowboarding a lot but also bought ice skates and explored the many ice skating ponds and rinks around our county.
-Chad planned an awesome last-minute surprise vacation to Florida for our 20th anniversary in May. I can’t believe we’ve never been on a family vacation to Florida, it was so much fun!
-We had a lot of quality time with our extended family and were able to hang out with every single one of our siblings (we each have three and they are spread out over 4 states so this is no small feat).
-In the spring we bought an awesome new camper and sold our beloved pop-up camper to Chad’s brother. Over the spring, summer, and fall we fit in many fun camping trips with friends and family.
-Eli went back to in-person school in the fall. He was so excited to get back to school and see all of his friends.
-In September, Chad’s brother got married to his perfect match who we love so much! Eli now has two new cousins and a new aunt and Chad and I have an awesome new sister-in-law and two new nieces.
-Vail Resorts decided to get rid of the part-time position that I worked for the last few years so no more free ski passes for our family. It was a great gig while it lasted!
-We spent most of December in Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii. On Maui, we met up with our good friends who are spending the year traveling the US visiting National Parks. Then, over to the Big Island to hang out with my parents who moved there for the winter.
Family Travel 2021
With the COVID pandemic still going strong, we chose to travel within the United States. In fact, the majority of our travels were camping trips within a few hours’ drive.
- Glenwood Springs, Colorado in February
- Scottsdale, AZ for MLB Spring Training in March
- Colorado State Park Camping March through September
- St. George, Utah in April
- Florida – Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Everglades National Park, and Isles of Capri/Marco Island in May
- Glenwood Springs – Hanging Lake Hike May
- Utah – Family trip in May (Grandma’s funeral)
- Alaska – Denali, Anchorage, Homer, Kasilof in June
- Denver – Ultimate Baseball weekend – MLB All Star Game and Homerun Derby
- Utah – Family camping trip to Fish Lake in July
- Wyoming – Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park in August
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Ouray Colorado in August
- Utah – Family trip in September
- Hawaii – Maui and the Big Island in December
Hiking is one of my favorite things to do and over the year we went on so many different hikes. Picking one favorite hike is impossible so I’m going to narrow it down to two- Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs and Inspiration Point in Grand Teton National Park.
Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs
If there is just one hike you should do in Colorado it is Hanging Lake. It is that spectacular. The views along the way to the lake are amazing but the lake itself…. words don’t do it justice. The turquoise water is so crystal clear you can see the colorful trout swimming around. Then the expansive waterfall is absolutely beautiful. The fact that the lake is located near the top of a mountain and surrounded by rugged peaks is also incredible.
Sadly, after we hiked to Hanging Lake there was a huge landslide that damaged the trail. As of today, the trail is still closed for maintenance. But, it sounds like the lake wasn’t damaged and hopefully one day soon the trail will be restored and reopened again.
For more to do in Glenwood Springs read – Things To Do In Glenwood Springs Colorado Summer Or Winter
Inspiration Point Grand Teton National Park
The other amazing hike we did was Inspiration Point in Grand Teton National Park. This was a hike I did as a child and it was so awesome I still remembered it after all these years. It is one of the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park for good reason!
The hike starts with a boat ride across Jenny Lake and then goes through the pristine forest, a short side trip to the spectacular Hidden Falls, and then up to the expansive views from Inspiration Point. On the way back down you are rewarded with the jagged peaks of the infamous Cathedral Group mountain range.
For more details on the hike read – Inspiration Point – The Best Hike In Grand Teton National Park With Kids
Best Road Trip
Although we took a lot of road trips from Colorado to Utah and many camping trips around Colorado, Our 10 day Alaska road trip was my favorite road trip hands down. We have been to Alaska several times as a family but until last summer we had never taken Eli to Denali National Park where Chad and I worked for 3 summers in college.
Alaska is my favorite place to road trip. There is so much to see and do and in the summer you have the advantage of 24 hours of daylight. We were actually there over summer solstice!
If you are ever planning to visit Alaska, you’ll want to read – The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip 10 Day Itinerary
Best National Parks
We love to visit National Parks and we explored many National Parks over the year. Again, it is hard to pick one favorite National Park so I narrowed it down to two – Denali and Everglades National Park.
Denali has a special place in my heart because we lived there for three summers. But, aside from living there, it is such a vast, gigantic, expansive, and wild National Park. Denali is so much less crowded than many of the other easily accessible National Parks in the United States.
The Everglades made the list because it is so unique, it’s unlike any National Park I’ve ever been to. We rode bikes along a river that was home to countless alligators! We saw so many alligators, turtles, and birds on the fifteen-mile round-trip bike ride in Shark Valley. The airboat tour that we did was also a fun and unique way to explore the National Park.
Best Beach Vacation
The majority of our beach vacations are in Hawaii or Mexico so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Florida Beaches. Wowza, I was blown away! The beaches we visited near Fort Lauderdale and the beaches around Marco Island were all fabulous. The soft expanses of sand and warm ocean water in May were a treat. Also, I couldn’t believe all of the beautiful shells that we found!
I still think the beaches in Hawaii are unbeatable. But, our vacation to Hawaii in December wasn’t much of a beach vacation (more on that later) so Florida was our family’s best beach vacation of 2021.
Best Hot Springs
One thing I love about living in Colorado is the abundance of natural hot springs. We have been to many of them over the years but had never been to Ouray Hot Springs until last summer. It was such a treat!
The town of Ouray is sometimes called the Switzerland of America and totally lives up to its nickname. The rugged mountains that tower over the small town of Ouray make it one of the most picturesque towns in the west. Ouray Hot Springs is right in the middle of the town.
Not only is the setting for the hot springs beautiful, but the amenities are great also. There are waterslides, a volleyball net, and an inflatable floating obstacle course. We had such a fun day swimming, soaking, and playing at the hot springs.
Best Camping Trip
With the purchase of our new camper, we made camping a priority in 2021. Again, it is really hard to pick the best camping trip. We renewed our Colorado State Parks pass and the majority of our camping trips were to nearby state parks. But, I think my favorite camping trip was to Fish Lake in Utah.
Every summer we meet Chad’s family in Fish Lake, Utah (it is kind of mid-way between us in Colorado, Chad’s siblings in Salt Lake, and Chad’s parents in Las Vegas). This summer we celebrated Eli’s birthday on the family camping trip. The weather was perfect and it was great to spend time with family.
Worst Travel Experience
I know, I really shouldn’t complain about travel issues during a pandemic. But, I’m going to anyway. My worst travel experience was when Southwest Airlines canceled my flight to Fort Lauderdale at the last minute. I was so excited to meet my mom, sister, aunt, and cousin for a girls’ trip in Florida last September. It would have been only the second time I went on a trip without Eli since he was born (he’s 8 now). Sadly, it didn’t happen.
I went to bed early the night before my trip completely packed and ready to go. When I woke up in the morning I saw that Southwest Airlines had texted me at 11:30 the night before canceling my flight. There were many other flights out of Denver to Florida canceled that day. So, by the time I saw the text, all of the other airlines’ flights to Florida were either completely booked for the next few days or outrageously expensive. Our girls’ trip was only a few days so I ended up not being able to make it at all. Very sad.
We have HUGE plans for 2022. After living in Colorado for over 20 years we are making a big move….. to the Big Island of Hawaii! Moving to Hawaii has always been our plan and we finally have the opportunity to make it happen. I love where we live in Colorado but the winters at 9,500 feet in elevation are brutally cold and long.
We are ready to enjoy year-round perfect weather and find new ocean-related hobbies. We’re also excited for the opportunity to actually grow our own fruit and vegetables (something that is impossible in the short summers here).
Most of our time on the Big Island in December was spent looking at different neighborhoods. We have a good idea of where we want to live and now have to wait for the right house to come on the market. The housing market on the Big Island is extremely competitive. We have already put in offers on two different houses that we didn’t get. But, we aren’t in a huge rush and I’m sure we’ll find the perfect house eventually.
Happy new year, wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and amazing 2022!