There are a few reasons why I felt inspired to talk about where we traveled last year.
- We traveled almost every month in 2013, sometimes two to three times in a month!
- As I haven’t posted an album to Facebook since 2012, I thought this might appease the few who enjoy our travel photos.
- We got a lot of Christmas cards and letters this season, and they were quite enjoyable. This is my way of doing “the letter.”
In the order that they were visited, I present 2013’s list of travel highlights!
And if you don’t want to view them in order, you can view them by location (just click whichever one you want to see).
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JANUARY 2013
As I’ll be visiting my friend Katie during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend for the the third time this year (here’s the 2014 Atlanta post), this trip has become something of an annual tradition. Last year, she had just moved to Atlanta to start law school, and we both enjoyed exploring the city.
This shot of the Atlanta skyline was taken from Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s equivalent of Central Park. I could have been in this park all day and still wouldn’t have had enough of all it has to offer!
The picture below is just one angle of the small, but beautifully landscaped Historic Fourth Ward Park, which is just steps away from the Atlanta Beltline. It’s certainly a good reason to walk the Beltline. (And a reason to be jealous of Katie, who can easily walk to this park from where she lives.)
My two favorite eats while in Atlanta were a mocha from Dancing Goats Coffee Bar and a Kiwi Roll from Gekko Sushi Lounge.
Discovering Dancing Goats was an amusing coincidence, as I have been a fan of Batdorf & Bronson / Dancing Goats coffee since I first tried it at its headquarters in Olympia, Washington, about seven years ago. I’ve raved about this coffee to many people, and I knew that they had a roastery in Atlanta, but I didn’t know about the coffee bar until I showed up with a hostess gift for my friend of Dancing Goats coffee from Olympia. (My husband is from Olympia, and I usually get to experience the magic of Dancing Goats once a year when we go to visit his family there.) Much was my friend’s surprise when she saw the logo, and realized the coffee bar of the same name was nearby, and one of her favorites!
At Gekko, the Kiwi Roll was a unique sushi roll, composed of, what else, kiwi! It might seem weird, but it definitely made the list of my favorite sushi rolls ever with its perfectly balanced combination of sweet and savory. I highly recommend Gekko – great service, classy atmosphere, and great rolls! (And it’s right across the street from Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, so you can appease your sushi appetite and caffeine needs simultaneously.)
Finally, a photo from Historic Fourth Ward Park to round out the trip!
KITTY HAWK & DUCK, NORTH CAROLINA – FEBRUARY 2013
For the first anniversary of our engagement, I surprised my husband (much like he has surprised me on multiple dates) with a trip to the Outer Banks. You might wonder why we would go there in February, but if you’re not a huge fan of the beach (and we’re not), it’s the perfect time to go. There’s still plenty to see, and there are no crowds. (And, as a bonus, everything is much cheaper!) We were also eager to finally see Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers Museum.
The highlight of the museum is this full-scale reproduction of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s airplane.
Here we are in the very spot where the first flight of an airplane happened!
This national memorial in honor of the Wrights was raised on the hill overlooking the first flights. It was a very windy day when we visited (much like it was when the Wrights were testing out their plane), and I mostly remember the trek up the hill being very chilly.
After a few hours at the Wright Memorial, we went to see the Currituck Lighthouse. Because it was off season, it wasn’t open, but we were still able to see it from ground level. There was also a beautiful park next door that offered great views of the sound.
The next day, we spent a little time at Jennette’s Pier, which offers great views of the Outer Banks beach. We had hoped to obtain a driving permit for the beach so we could cruise in the Subie over the sand, but it turned out you couldn’t get them on Sundays, much to my chagrin. There was no one on the beach, and I’m sure our Subaru would have made a good beach buggy! We still enjoyed the views from the pier, though.
Finally, before we returned to Raleigh, we spent a morning at the Roanoke Island Aquarium, which houses many animals for its size – including my favorites, otters and sharks. The otters were too fast for me to capture on camera, but here’s a shot of Andy photographing the sharks and other big fish.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cozy bed and breakfast we stayed in, The Sleeping Duck. It was comfortable and cute, and the hostess was friendly and helpful in directing us to a few places, including the Pier and the restaurant where we had a delicious seafood dinner, The Black Pelican. Many restaurants were closed because of off-season, but The Black Pelican stays open year-round. And why not, when they serve such wonderful food? The place was packed, and we visited in February! Also, know that any dessert you order there is for sharing; they are huge!
BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA – MARCH 2013
We have a friend in vet school at Virginia Tech, and as Andy nor I had ever been there, it seemed like a great excuse to go. In March 2013, we spent a weekend there. What a fun little town!
On Saturday, we went on a beautiful hike to Cascade Falls.
Even though it was nearly 70 degrees the day we hiked, there were still signs of the snowfall Blacksburg had had several days before.
The view at the end of the hike was worth a little snow and some steep terrain.
At the end of the hike, we ate at Home Place. Well known to the locals (especially the college students), Home Place is down home southern food served family style as all you can eat. It’s so popular that we waited more than an hour to be seated. We feasted on great country cookin’ like fried chicken and cobbler. After our hike, we went through several baskets of food, shared among the table. Mmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Finally, we saw the Virginia Tech memorial. It was sobering, but thoughtfully done.
KAUAI, HAWAII – APRIL 2013
Easily the biggest trip we took in 2013, Hawaii was as spontaneous as such a long haul of a trip can be. My parents had been planning to visit for almost a year, and had invited us in mid-2012, when we were buried in wedding planning and barely able to think ahead to our Nova Scotia honeymoon. Then, an incredibly cheap flight from Raleigh to Lihue became available in early 2013, and we just decided to go for it!
This was sunrise on our first day in Poipu, Kauai.
Our first day involved slower-paced exploring of Poipu as Andy and I tried to recover from the previous day of travel and a six-hour time change. Just a few miles from our condo, we ate delicious fish tacos at the Kauai Food Truck (and I posed for this photo).
Our “slow” day also included a relaxing stroll on the various beaches in Poipu. Although, what with the waves about to crash onto us, it looks a little more treacherous than it really is.
The next day we kayaked the Wailua River and hiked inland to Wailua Falls. This was definitely one of my favorite things that we did. The river and the waterfall were beautiful, and we had a super fun guide along on the trip.
On the way back from the Wailua, we stopped at Hanalei Bay, the largest bay on the North Shore of Kauai.
The next day, we hiked the first part of the Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast, which was strenuous and challenging, but very worth it for the views below.
The gorgeous Napali Coast!
The next morning’s excursion was a whale-watching trip. Due to the instability of the boat, I didn’t bring my phone (camera) along, but we did see whales, which was the highlight of the trip for me, and an item crossed off my bucket list. Whales are such magnificent creatures, and they are so much bigger than you could imagine. It’s not a stretch to say that they are approximately the size of a school bus, if not bigger. And when you consider that our boat was not much larger than that, it’s both fascinating and awe-inspiring to be so close to such a powerful animal.
After the morning’s whale-watching, we saw Waimea Canyon, which is gorgeous and lush. Unfortunately, my camera doesn’t do the colors justice.
On the way down from Waimea, we stopped to check out the “red dirt” falls, which were something of a mystery to us. It’s hard to believe that waterfalls exist among the red dirt clay, but they do!
Just after viewing the canyon, we checked our nearby Glass Beach. The beach is covered in tiny pebbles of glass worn smooth by the ocean. Years ago, a nearby glass factory used to discard all their waste into the ocean, creating the unnatural, but beautiful beach. Tourists have been collecting vials of the colorful pebbles for the past few decades, however, and soon Glass Beach will likely be just a regular beach. Despite that, I still managed to find and photograph some pretty little glass stones.
Before our vacation was over, we dined at the Beach House Restaurant in Poipu at sunset, which was a great end-cap to our time in Kauai. We enjoyed perfectly cooked seafood and lovely views from the open porch our table was perched next to.
One last view of Poipu, Hawaii, taken on our last day…
WILMINGTON & BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 2013
When my husband’s parents came to visit, we showed them two of our favorite places in North Carolina: Wilmington and Boone.
In Wilmington, we toured the New Hanover Arboretum, which is full of beautiful flowers and landscapes.
After eating lunch at Mellow Mushroom, we headed to downtown Wilmington to tour the shops of Water and Market Street.
After getting our fill of downtown Wilmington, we headed out for a walk on the beach.
The next day we spent in Raleigh, and we had to make a stop here, because the light was on.
It’s impossible to say no to the “hot donuts now” sign. Our next adventure, en route to Boone, included a detour to the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge in Claremont, N.C. Afterwards, we stopped in Hickory for lunch at a little downtown lunch place, Hatch, that’s definitely worth the 5-minute detour from I-40. If you like a gourmet sandwich but you don’t like gourmet prices, this place is for you. We’re always amazed at the value for the quality. And get the mac and cheese!
Once we were close to Boone, we found some hiking trails, which was the main reason we headed to western North Carolina. Linville Falls was a great place to do some short, but scenic hikes.
After an evening in Boone and a stop at my favorite burger and milkshake place, Come Back Shack (you’ve got to check it out if you’re in Boone), our next hiking location was Hanging Rock State Park.
On their last full day in North Carolina, we spent another day in Raleigh at one of my favorite parks, the Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum of Art. This park is full of great outdoor art, and it’s also connected to various beltlines, including the Reedy Creek Trail. We were able to walk from the museum to Whole Foods on Wade Avenue (for snacks!) and back, and it maybe took an hour.
If you liked checking out part one of 2013 in travel photos, check out part two!