It was a weird, epic and absolutely wonderful year in 2013. You will see what I mean when you look at this list and read through previous my blog posts! These are some of my favorite places and events that I blogged about during the past twelve months, along with some additional honorable mentions that did not previously make it into this blog.
#1) Epic New Year's Eve - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
During the first few hours of the year 2013, I was completely on my own. In a foreign country. Where I barely spoke the language. Walking two miles in knee-deep snow. In the freezing cold. At one o'clock in the morning heading back to my hotel. But I had seen the most amazing New Years Eve fireworks show at the Old Port, along with 40,000 other Montrealers ringing in a new calendar year full of hope and promise. How could I feel anything but exhilarated? I loved every moment of it, even in spite of accidentally missing the last train. Yep, 2013 was destined to be an eventful year for me from the very beginning.
#2) Olympic Sculpture Park - Seattle, Washington
I hit the weather lottery when I visited Seattle in April. Bright blue sunny skies, plus the lush greenery made for an absolutely gorgeous springtime experience in the Emerald City. I particularly enjoyed Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor park right along the Pacific Ocean which features amazing art. It was a great place to casually stroll and enjoy the outdoor beauty of Seattle.
#3) Experience Music Project/Sci-Fi Museum - Seattle, Washington
Rock-n-roll and science fiction artifacts in one building? Yes, please! I particularly enjoyed the exhibits about Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, as well as the Science Fiction Museum's collection of Star Wars memorabilia.
#4) Elephant Riding at Scarborough Renaissance Festival - Waxahachie, Texas
Why were they offering rides on an elephant at a Renaissance festival in Waxahachie, Texas? I have no idea, but when I saw the opportunity, I said yes. Because when else in life are you going to get to ride on an elephant?
#5) Giant Potato - Amarillo, Texas
My friend and I could see the giant potato from the opposite side of I-40, so we had to make a detour in order to see it up-close. And oh boy, we did see it.
#6) Driving on Route 66 - On the Road from Texas to California and back again!
I got my kicks! While driving to and from California during the summer, my driving path often coincided with the famous Route 66. From the first moment when I saw the sign near the Continental Divide in New Mexico, to the moment I saw the "End of the Road" sign on the Santa Monica Pier in L.A., I absolutely loved the amazing journey.
#7) Las Vegas, Nevada
After a long day driving from Albuquerque to Nevada on our way to California, my friend and I stopped for the night in Sin City. And of course, it was my first time in Vegas (besides a brief layover in the airport several years ago). I felt a little bit outside of my comfort zone, but I ended up having a good time...not too much fun though - it was a PG night of walking along the Strip, exploring the fancy hotels (including the Venetian, which I particularly thought was cool) and doing a little bit of gambling (I stopped after trying the penny slots and the roulette table once each). The bright lights, loud music, dry heat (110 degrees even at night!), big crowds and skimpy outfits are a lot to take in all at once, but Las Vegas is a neat place.
#8) Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles, California
This is probably my favorite memory of the entire year. After mis-reading the bus schedule, I hiked from the L.A. neighborhood of Los Feliz (on ground level) through Griffith Park and all the way up to the Observatory. When I neared my destination, I saw the most incredible view of the downtown L.A. skyline. You also get an absolutely unreal, up-close view of the Hollywood sign from outside of the Observatory. During that day, as I looked at the telescope, the other exhibits and the incredible views, it reminded me how much I loved astronomy when I was a kid (still do, actually).
#9) Craft and Folk Art Museum - Los Angeles, California
Across the street from the smelly La Brea Tar Pitts, you can't miss the brightly colored Craft and Folk Art Museum on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. At the time when I visited in August, the museum had an excellent exhibit featuring Alaskan artists.
#10) Flagstaff, Arizona
This summer, I drove through plenty of desert, but I was pleasantly surprised when passing through Flagstaff, which has beautiful mountains and tall trees. It looked much more like a typical small town in Colorado than the desert in the Southwest. Though I did not have time to adequately stop in the town to explore its charming streets and shops, I would love to go back...and visit the nearby Grand Canyon!
#11) Santa Fe, New Mexico
What a neat city! My cousin and I stopped in Santa Fe to have lunch, buy some amazing locally-made jewelry and browse the neat shops. This is another city where I would love to come back in order to spend extended time.
#12) Ostrich Racing at the State Fair - Dallas, Texas
How do they train ostriches to race, and who originally thought of the idea? I have no clue, but when I read in the program book that the 2013 State Fair of Texas had ostrich racing, I knew I had to check it out. One of the birds proudly puffed its feathers and showed off its "#1" emblem to the audience after the races.
#13) Day Trips through East Texas
A few times throughout the year, my sister and I randomly decided to start driving eastbound on one of the highways - sometimes out of boredom, sometimes on a specific quest (to find Cluckingham Palace, for instance), and sometimes just out of love of the open road.