January: Wintery Wonder
After a celebratory yet reflective December, my January was jam packed.
I saw lots of Tweets and Facebook posts about how January felt like an exceptionally long month, and I have to agree. I dragged myself across the finish line on Friday the 31st, in bed with a bad cold by 8 p.m. I needed all weekend to recuperate from an incredibly busy month, which brought me to four states, a conference in Manhattan, and an ice hockey game and travel show in Boston (in addition to working full time, taking on new freelance clients and volunteering). Here are some of the more wonderful and memorable moments:
- I didn’t go home to New Jersey for Christmas this year, but I did return to the Lehigh Valley right after the New Year to spend some time with my family. The highlight was seeing my four-year-old nephew Henry. For his Christmas gift, we spent the day together, eating lunch at McDonald’s and running around the Crayola Experience in Easton, Pa.* (Well, he did those things, and I just paid for them). * If you’re heading to Crayola, check out what to do in Easton.
- I’ve lived in Boston for 12 years now, and in all this time, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Boston Bruins game, even though I do really like hockey as a sport. So I owe a big “thank you” to the Visit Tampa Bay folks for hosting me in their box at TD Garden when the Bruins played the Winnipeg Jets. Besides paying $16 for a beer, I had a great time.
- The following weekend I spoke on a travel “influencer” panel at the Boston Travel & Adventure Show at the Hynes Convention Center. The panel was organized by Wanderful and moderated by its founder Beth Santos. I was joined on the panel by bloggers SanTara Cassamajor and Lillie Marshall, and we covered everything from how we got started to how we work with brands to how we manage our time. I also got to check out a few booths and get some inspiration for upcoming trips.
- Over Martin Luther King weekend, I traveled to a place event colder than Boston, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for a get together with my dear former study abroad friends/roommates. Minnesota in January is not for the faint of heart, but we enjoyed some quality time together while trying to stay warm. We hit up two breweries – Wild Mind Artisan Ales and Fulton Beer Production Brewery, which was hosting the Minneapolis Vintage Market that day – and we ate lots of good, hearty food. The highlight for me was spending an hour on (frozen) Lake Harriet, the site of Art Shanty Projects, a public art installation featuring 20+ ice decorated fishing shacks, performances and interactive exhibits.
- This year, TravMedia hosted its one-day Travel Summit in New York City for travel journalists, content creators and PR professionals. It’s always inspiring – and a little intimidating – to be in a room with such accomplished travel professionals. The highlight for me was hearing from Barry Neild, the Global Editor of CNN Travel (one takeaway: stories about planes are really popular for some reason), as well as the editors of Afar and Atlas Obscura.
- The following day felt like it was one-year long, but it was highly productive (and fun too). It was my third time attending TravMedia’s IMM (International Media Marketplace), a one-day “speed networking event, where journalists and content creators meet with 24 destinations and brands. More than making connections that (hopefully) will lead to future partnerships, I enjoying learning more about new places, especially those that might not have been on my radar before. This year, I came away most excited about Detroit, Rochester and Chickasaw Country (Oklahoma). There were also loads of Canadian destinations, and hopefully seeing polar bears is in my future!
- The day after IMM, another blogger, Jenn Coleman of Coleman Concierge, and I jumped in my beat-up old Honda and head two hours north to the Catskills, where we spent the weekend exploring thanks to an invite from Great Northern Catskills. Our home for the weekend was the super quirky and cozy Glen Falls House, where we enjoyed comfort food both nights and did work by the fire. Unfortunately, our New York Zipline Canopy Tour was cancelled because of the weather (rain then ice), but we had a lot of great food and beer, visited the impressive Kaaterskill Falls in their frozen glory, and toured the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
- On a non-travel note, I got to help two puppies find their forever homes. The organization for which I foster, Operation Favor, asked me to meet with two families who applied for puppies to make sure they were up to the challenge. The good news is they were, and they brought home their little ones later that week. Lincoln and Bo (short for Bo Peep) came from a litter of nine puppies, which have all been adopted – I now have their mama dog, Bonnie, as my foster.
What I’m Reading
Well it was my New Year’s resolution to try and read more, and that hasn’t really happened. But I did listen to two audiobooks, so that kinda counts, right? They were very different but both entertaining: Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van Ness and Chase Darkness with Me: How One True Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen.
What’s Next for February
Curled up beside me is my foster puppy Bonnie, who I picked up last night. She’s been absolutely delightful, and I’ll probably have her about a week until she’s adopted. My only trip in February is going to southern Florida – yeah for sunshine! A friend from college is visiting every national park in the U.S., and she twisted my arm to visit Dry Tortugas National Park with her.