“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return”. –  Leonardo da Vinci

I love this quote. Living in Southwest Minneapolis, our home is right under the flight path to   the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport and over the years I’ve come to know when the “big boys” or 747s are coming in to land from their 12-hour flight from Japan. At times, the planes can be loud and annoying, especially during a summer evening when we want to dine outside. Yet being close to the airport comes in handy when you are a diehard wanderlust. Simply looking up in the sky and watching the planes come and go makes me feel excited about the next adventure.

Today is my birthday and I feel very blessed to have such a wonderful loving family, good health, caring friends and another year of amazing adventures. As the last month of the year comes to a close I reflect back on all the fantastic travels both near and far. I’ve been to some new places and some that I haven’t been to in decades. All in all it has been a terrific year of adventure.

Here are a few select memories from some of my favorite destinations of 2016.

Arizona and San Diego

We ended last year with a trip to Arizona for Christmas and San Diego for the New Year. I will always feel like Tucson is my second home and I’ve grown extremely fond of all the wonderful things San Diego has to offer.  Being outside in late December and early January without my heavy winter coat is always a pleasure.

Bear Canyon, Tucson, Arizona

Me, my dad and my sister take a rare moment to grab a photo together.

Bear Canyon, Tucson, Arizona

My favorite shot in Sabino Canyon

Torrey Pines Reserve California

Torrey Pines Reserve California

Torrey Pines Reserve CaliforniaTorrey Pines Reserve California

Snowbird, Utah

For the second year in a row, my daughter Sophia and I met my Dad for a weekend of skiing at Snowbird, Utah. They had just gotten a huge dump of snow and I took nine-year-old Sophia on the back side of the mountain which wasn’t groomed. She wasn’t pleased but made it down the bowl. I was so proud of her! I love our three-generational ski trips!

Brighton Resort Utah

Me and my girl

Snowbird Ski Resort UtahSnowbird Ski Resort Utah


In February, I was invited to review an all women’s learn to surf program in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I’d never been to Nicaragua before and loved it. I really enjoyed exploring nearby Granada, and I also got to finally meet fellow blogger Debbie and her husband Ron. It was a fun winter getaway!

Cathedral Plaza Colon, Granada, Nicaragua


San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Me and my board, “Snow White” learning to surf

Lago Cocibolca Granada Nicaragua

Me and Debbie (blogger of Rewind and Retired in Nicaragua) in San Juan del Sur.

Me and Debbie (blogger of Rewind and Retired in Nicaragua) in San Juan del Sur.

Arizona again

For spring break, the kids and I went back to Arizona to visit my parents in Tucson. It was lovely weather and we enjoyed lots of hiking. The bonus: All the cactus were in bloom! Not so great: My son Max was in a cast since he broke his arm snowboarding so no swimming.

Sabino Canyon Tucson Arizona

Sabino Canyon Tucson Arizona

Sonoran Desert Musuem, Tucson Arizona


I had never been to Tennessee and I can’t say this visit was truly a trip. However it was an adventure as I flew down to rural Tennessee to pick up our new puppy, Winter! Flying with an eight-week old puppy through Atlanta, the busiest airport in the world, was quite the adventure. Needless to say, I’m glad I have this off my list.


IMG_3491London and Prague

After three weeks of restless sleep (who knew getting a new puppy would be like having a baby again?) I headed to London and Prague with my mom and sister. I hadn’t been to either destination since 1993 when I lived in France. I enjoyed my time in both cities but especially feel in love with the beauty and romance of Prague. What a picturesque place!

Changing of the Guards, London EnglandP1090993-1

London, England

Leaving Buckingham Palace and looking back towards Central London

The Original Tour London

Climbing aboard The red double decker Original Tour bus.

Bell Tower, PragueP1100479-1Charles Bridge, PragueLesser Town Prague


Ely and Lutsen, Minnesota

In June, we took our first road trip with our pup. It wasn’t fun as we soon discovered Winter gets carsick. Looking back the memories are hilarious but at the time it wasn’t much fun having the dog vomit all over the car. We have been going to Lutsen on the North Shore of Lake Superior for years, however, Ely was a new destination for us. We stayed at a cabin on Lake Mitchell and it was a wonderful couple of days.

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota


Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

Winter at four months. He is a true water and hiking dog. He loved it up north.

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota


My dad and I did a week trip to Romania. Neither of us had ever been there before and it was a surprisingly delightful find. The people are warm and friendly, the culture and nature are superb and the cost of traveling there was very economical. It was a wonderful trip despite being pretty short.

Brasov, Romania

Brasov, RomaniaMount Tampa Cable Car, Brasov Romania

Transfăgărășan Highway

View looking back down

The Apostle Islands

My husband and I got a rare weekend away to Hayward, Wisconsin, the launching off point to the Apostle Islands. We stayed at a lovely B&B, enjoyed hiking, sailing, kayaking and dining out. It was a magical time and I am hoping to go back!


Sailboat Ride in the Apostle Islands

Sailboat Ride in the Apostle Islands

IMG_4806Lost Creek Falls, Bayfield Wisconsin

Apostle Islands WI

One of many hiking trails through the green forests of the Bayfield Peninsula


Back to Ely

We enjoyed our time in Ely so much that we made a trip back in the fall for a long weekend. The colors were spectacular and of course Winter loved it even more. He is definitely a water dog!

Mitchell Lake, Ely MN

Bass Lake Trail, Ely, MN

A rare family photo with Winter

Mitchell Lake, Ely MinnesotaMitchell Lake, Ely MNMitchell Lake, Ely MN

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota


In October, the kids had a school break and we headed to Orlando and Key West. The kids finally got to see Harry Potter at Universal Studios and we got to enjoy some sunshine and craziness in Key West.

Universal Studios Orlando

Sophia gets her magic wand

Universal Studios Orlando

A ride on the Hogwarts Express

Blue Planet Kayaks

Heading out to the mangroves

Looking back, it has been a busy year but full of magic and delight. The kids are finally at a good age to travel and we have embraced our time together exploring both near and far. We’re looking forward to our first big family trip this April to Costa Rica. Until then I’m sure I’ll be getting itchy feet. But don’t worry…I have a special trip coming up soon in January. A true wanderlust can never stay still for long.


  1. Some great memories there… I never caught up with you on Nicaragua – will see if I can find it… My 2016 review will soon follow also as am going to be offline for a while. As always you are an inspiration

      1. Chicago! But also listing the house after the holidays … :(((( On to Cuba for a week in January. Have a great Christmas and New Year!

    1. Thanks Sue! I signed up to go on the Lokal Travels Adventure trip I wrote about! I’m going on January 2nd for a week to the Osa Peninsula with a group of people. Should be pretty fascinating. I’m definitely itching to travel. 🙂

  2. Strong quote by daVinci–what a year that you’ve had and such grand adventures and memories. Did you hear that Al Gore met with the president-elect? I am hoping against the odds that it will open him to the reality of climate change and the critical phase we are globally and here.

    1. Thanks Sally! Yes I did read that about Gore’s meeting and that made me feel hopeful. Not so sure about his choice for EPA head yet I think he is trying to appease his supporters. Yet I am thinking he is going back on so many crazy things he said to get elected. I’m wondering now what he really stands for. Will be following closely. 🙂

  3. Ahhh, Nicole I love this post. Thanks for including me in your photos. I had no idea how many trips you took this year until you combined them into one post. You must have a collection of thousands of photos. Happy birthday mi amigo. Hope your day has been fantastic!

    1. Thanks Debbie! Yes it was a busy year and I didn’t realize how busy it was until I wrote the post! 🙂 Looking forward to reading more about your trip!!!

  4. Some beautiful views and a wonderful year of activities, Nicole. Lovely to see you and your young adventurers as they grow up. Hope the birthday was a lovely celebration. Here’s to another fabulous year! 🙂

    1. Thanks Jo! you are right as I started my blog about six years ago and yes you’ve seen the kids grow. It is fun to have all my memories here. Thanks for sticking around! 🙂

  5. Absolutely wonderful round-up of your adventures, Nicole. Fantastic photos and an inspiration to your readers to see the world! A belated happy birthday to you. Here’s to a great year ahead with family, friends and traveling. 😀

  6. Your year was chock-full of new adventures. It is so good to see your father looking so healthy. A belated birthday wish to you Nicole and my wish for a truly blessed holiday for you and your family. I hope the upcoming year is as promising as this year seems to have been.

    1. Oh thank you LuAnn! It has been quite the year, the biggest change was getting our puppy! It has been an adjustment but he has gotten me outside so much more than before. It has been really nice! Happy New Year to you too and I’m so glad you came back to the blogging world. I sure missed you!

      1. Thanks Nicole! It is good to be back, even if I don’t post as much as I’d like to. Hopefully that will change next year, but I am not putting any pressure on myself to do so.

      2. Yes I know what you mean about posting. It is hard to post as frequently especially when you need to research, write the post, edit the pictures and put it all together. The post I just wrote on the Gobi Bears took me two full days! I can imagine a lot of your posts take a lot as well as they are so well researched, put together, and written. I adore them! 🙂

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